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Councilor urges Red Sox chief to back a ballpark in S. Boston

By Meg Vaillancourt, Globe Staff, 6/26/2001

Seeking to persuade Red Sox chief John Harrington to support a new waterfront ballpark before selling the team, Boston City Councilor Michael Flaherty yesterday formally asked Harrington for a meeting to discuss the idea.

Flaherty's push comes amid growing support among South Boston political leaders for a plan to build a ballpark on 25 acres developer Frank McCourt owns in the South Boston Seaport area.

''It is my belief that ... a new home for the Red Sox in South Boston is a distinct possibility,'' Flaherty, a councilor at large and a South Boston native, wrote to Harrington.

Racing to seal a deal with McCourt before Harrington sells the team to the highest bidder this fall, Flaherty stressed that the team's proposal for a new $665 million ballpark adjacent to Fenway Park faces strong opposition in the City Council.

''Since I believe the [team's] plan has little chance of securing the necessary public approvals, I think it would well serve the Red Sox to reconsider a waterfront ballpark,'' Flaherty said.

Although the Red Sox did not publicly embrace the idea yesterday, the response from team officials did not rule out a site change. ''As we have previously stated, the Red Sox remain committed to anchoring the team in Boston before the sale is complete,'' said Red Sox spokeswoman Jody Matthews. ''And we will follow the mayor's lead as to how to best accomplish that.''

Menino appears loath to reverse himself after encouraging the team to stay in the Fenway. ''The mayor remains committed to the new Fenway ballpark plan that was adopted by state legislators last year,'' said mayoral spokeswoman Carol Brennan.

Several South Boston politicians have signaled their willingness to reconsider a waterfront ballpark, including City Councilor James M. Kelly and state Representative John A. Hart Jr.

State Senator Stephen F. Lynch, running for the late J. Joseph Moakley's congressional seat, was less enthusiastic. ''It seems backward to me,'' he said. ''Since the team is going to be sold in a few months, I'd think everyone would be best served if we first found out who the new owner is and talk with them about their plans before we jump into anything.''

Although state lawmakers approved a bill allocating $100 million in infrastructure aid for the Fenway project, the team has been unable to complete negotiations with the city or secure the private financing needed to build it.

Harrington's decision to sell the team after this season is over has prompted prospective Red Sox owners to consider a number of alternatives, including a plan by one group of bidders to build a new stadium on the current site.

Sports analysts argue that it's in the team's interest to encourage a number of sites, since the more options bidders believe are available, the higher they may be willing to bid. But state leaders have cautioned that the $100 million in infrastructure aid is not automatically transferable to other sites.

This story ran on page D5 of the Boston Globe on 6/26/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

 

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