Commentary: A 'generational opportunity' to revitalize White Stadium for all to use

A rendering of a renovated White Stadium. BUSP image

White Stadium is at the heart of Boston’s legacy – a beacon of community pride and resilience for more than 70 years. From vibrant community events to top-notch high school athletic competitions to memorable musical performances, White Stadium has long been a lively gathering place for Boston’s diverse neighborhoods and interests.

Sadly, however, the White Stadium of today does not live up to its storied history. It no longer meets the needs of Boston Public School (BPS) students or Franklin Park visitors. This is why Boston Unity Soccer Partners is choosing to invest in this underutilized, declining community treasure as the home of our new National Women’s Soccer League team – so that White Stadium no longer stands as a fixture of the past but instead serves as a cornerstone of our community for generations to come.

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We believe in Mayor Wu’s vision for a restored stadium that is finally of the quality that BPS student-athletes and the surrounding neighborhoods want and deserve. It is an honor for our team to be part of this much-needed transformation. 

When we envisioned bringing Boston its newest professional women’s team, we thought about how our team could have an impact well beyond 20 game days a year and were intentional about our selection of White Stadium as our home pitch because of what this collaboration could do for our city 365 days a year. In order to realize these ambitious goals, the community’s voice needs to be heard in all aspects of the plans.

Through our extensive listening process of more than 100 meetings, it became clear to us that BPS and the constituents who live near and use Franklin Park want to see a wide array of benefits for both students and residents of the surrounding communities, along with solutions for traffic, parking, and transportation. The city and team will continue to host working sessions to explore important topics like enhancing existing transit options, promoting biking and other modes of transportation, and protecting residents’ mobility. We encourage everyone to participate because with every conversation, our shared plans for White Stadium are enhanced.  

Franklin Park has long been a hub of cultural and social activity and reinvigorating White Stadium will further enhance its status as a focal point for gatherings, events, and recreation. By modernizing existing facilities and improving accessibility, the stadium will become a more welcoming space for neighbors and residents of all ages and backgrounds to come together, whether for sporting and cultural events, recreation, leisure, or community festivals. It will be a point of pride for many communities and many generations to come. 

Crucially, the proposed renovation plan emphasizes increased accessibility, ensuring that all members of the community will benefit from the upgraded facilities. BPS student-athletes will finally get the state-of-the-art athletic and support facilities desired for generations, including a high-quality natural grass field, an eight-lane track to host meets, and expanded indoor facilities with a strength-and-conditioning suite, sports medicine, study areas, and more. Yearly BPS programming will more than triple, from 250 to 800+ annual hours, with a significant increase in use for soccer and track & field.

The stadium will also be available for marquee late-season football games for more BPS schools, including Thanksgiving matchups and playoffs. Benefits will extend well beyond high school sports, with extended public hours from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and amenities like restrooms and water fountains. We will also introduce a flexible, publicly accessible gathering place called The Grove, which will support the many existing Franklin Park festivals and offer food, beverage, and seasonal activities all year long. 

A revitalization of White Stadium also presents a unique opportunity to create jobs and stimulate economic growth in Dorchester and adjacent neighborhoods. This project is expected to generate 500 jobs during renovation and more than 300 new permanent jobs at all economic levels, and we have committed to a 50 percent women and minority-owned business threshold in our contracting and hiring, with preference given to local contractors, vendors, and employees. A revamped White Stadium will also attract more visitors to the area, boosting local businesses on Blue Hill Avenue and in Egleston Square, Codman Square, and Fields Corner.  

Additionally, we have committed to a $500,000 annual fund to be distributed to local organizations and initiatives dedicated to four pillars: Investments in Franklin Park and the Franklin Park Action Plan, youth sports and development, health and wellness of Black and Brown communities, and local business development. We invite neighborhood representatives to be part of an Advisory Committee that will make recommendations on the organizations and initiatives the fund will support. 

At their core, stadiums and professional sports teams are community assets. Sports have the unique ability to bring people together, transcending differences of race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. Restoring White Stadium to a flourishing venue for public use, sporting events, community celebrations, and recreational activities will allow it to once again serve as a connector of our city. It will become a symbol of unity and shared purpose, strengthening the bonds among Boston’s diverse populations.  

We are at a pivotal moment in time for White Stadium. After too many failed attempts over the years, it’s time to breathe new life into this beloved neighborhood asset with an innovative structure where community and professional sports unite to elevate a public-school system’s athletic facilities. At the end of the day, this public-private-community partnership is about investing in the future of Boston and BPS students – a future built on inclusivity, equity, and collective prosperity. Let us seize this moment to come together and embrace the promise it is sure to deliver.

Jennifer Epstein, Ami Kuan Danoff, Stephanie Connaughton, and Anna Palmer are the managing partners of the Boston Unity Soccer Partners.

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