Somerville Stadium Talks Continue

Updated 10/3/2012 at 3:12 p.m.

Revere and the former Wonderland Greyhound Park have grabbed the headlines lately as a potential future home for a New England Revolution soccer stadium, but New England Soccer Today has learned Somerville remains a possibility with a new potential location of its own.

Somerville originally appeared in the news nearly five years ago with the Inner Belt/Brickbottom area as the proposed stadium location. Now, Assembly Square has emerged as a new option.

“The conversations have continued — in a preliminary way with no formal proposals being issued — with the Revolution about the potential of having a stadium here in Somerville,” said Thomas Champion Executive Director of Communications for Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone. “In 2007-2008 the discussions were about Inner Belt/Brickbottom area of Somerville.

“Now discussions are about Assembly Square where construction is underway on an Orange line MBTA stop. The location is also close to the Green Line. We’re open to [a stadium there] but we have to see the details.”

With the Assembly Square MBTA Orange Line stop looking at a fall 2014 opening — as well as the fairly close proximity of the Green Line — the potential site would fulfill the Revolution’s hopes of building a stadium accessible by public transit. That access is a key to the Revolution’s interest in the Assembly Square location.

“I can confirm that we are still in communication with Somerville officials about potential stadium locations in their city, including the possibility of a facility in Assembly Square, which is an attractive site for development with its significant transportation infrastructure and proximity to downtown Boston,” said New England Revolution president Brian Bilello, in a statement to New England Soccer Today on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

But, any final decision would have to serve the interests of both the Kraft Sporting Group and the City of Somerville.

“The Revolution are going to make the best business decision they possibly can about how to create a stadium in the long run,” said Champion. “It’s clear they need a kind of location with good transit access and good highway access and the financial resources to be a good partner. It’s clear anyone who wants to work with the Revolution has to look at how it will improve their commercial tax base and strengthen their ability to invest in services such as schools, public safety, etc.”

As for Revere, talks may be a bit more in depth, but with much of that plan seemingly hinging on a casino such a scenario could come to a crashing halt. A casino isn’t part of the Assembly Square plans, but certainly no shortage of other details would need to be worked out to make a soccer specific stadium a reality.

“The Revolution are exploring a number of options, including the site at Revere,” Champion said. “They’ve reportedly entered into discussions with [Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo], but there are a lot of things that need to break the right way in terms of a casino. [Mayor Curtatone’s] door remains open to having further discussion.”

New England is one of just five MLS teams without firm plans for a soccer specific stadium. Thirteen MLS teams currently have their own soccer specific stadiums, while a 14th, the San Jose Earthquakes, will break ground on their stadium this month. Three of the remaining five are expansion clubs founded within the last four years, leaving D.C. United and the Revolution as the only MLS original franchises without their own soccer specific stadiums.

While the Revolution have been exploring options for a new stadium for several years, the club now has at least two promising possibilities in Revere and Somerville. Now it’s up to the team to decide if either possibility makes sense.

As for Somerville, they certainly aren’t betting the city’s future on a soccer stadium coming to fruition.

“The critical thing from our standpoint is Assembly Square wouldn’t need a stadium to be successful,” said Champion. “The strength of Assembly Square as a retail location has already been confirmed and the area will be successful with our without a stadium.”

 

Assembly Square: (Key: Blue = General Area of Assembly Square, Yellow = Assembly Square MBTA [Orange Line, under construction], Green = Lechmere MBTA [Green Line])

View Assembly Square in a larger map

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue