THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
The Boston Baseball Field of Dreams group would model a Boston facility after Hammons Field, a minor league stadium in Springfield, Mo. The Missouri stadium cost $30 million; in Boston, the price tag would be expected to exceed $40 million.

2 groups consider a minor league stadium near BC High

By Sasha Talcott
Globe Staff / July 20, 2006
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Two groups seeking to bring a minor league baseball team to Boston are holding talks with Boston College High School in Dorchester about building a stadium on or near its campus.

The first group, which calls itself Boston Baseball Field of Dreams, wants to open a park in 2008, modeled after a new minor league stadium in Springfield, Mo., home to a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate . The second group wants to build a stadium it can share with BC High and the University of Massachusetts at Boston, either on land from the high school or the adjacent university on Morrissey Boulevard.

A spokesman for BC High confirmed that both groups have met with school officials, who are waiting for formal proposals. The groups have looked at dozens of sites around the city, including Joe Moakley Park in South Boston and Nickerson Field at Boston University, but are now focused on Dorchester.

Both efforts have big-name backers. The management and consultant roster of Boston Baseball Field of Dreams includes the former chief executive of TD Banknorth Garden, Richard Krezwick; prominent political campaign strategists the Dewey Square Group; and Larry Carpman, owner of a public relations firm and a former adviser to Senator John F. Kerry. Boston lawyer Alexander Bok, who launched Boston Baseball Field of Dreams, has raised $800,000, and is soliciting more investors.

The second group includes former mayor of Brockton Jack Yunits, who helped bring minor league baseball to Brockton, and Frank Keefe, a partner in developing the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square. They have not raised any money yet, but have looked at sites extensively.

Both groups like the idea of an independent team, separate from Major League Baseball's farm system . It could come from either the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball, the league of the Brockton Rox and the Nashua Pride, or the Atlantic League, which has teams across the Northeast, including Bridgeport, Conn., and Long Island, N.Y.

Krezwick, former chief executive of the Garden and an adviser for the Bok group, said the Boston market can clearly support an independent league team without taking away from existing professional franchises.

``It's a terrific opportunity," he said. ``There's a great market."

Bringing a minor league team to Boston will be enormously expensive, and the venture probably will lose money for several years. The stadium alone is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars, even if the groups work out a favorable deal with BC High or UMass to host the site on their land. The Missouri stadium, which opened its doors in 2004, cost $30 million; in Boston, the price tag for a similar facility would likely be more than $40 million, taking into account union labor and higher construction costs, said Bok.

Bok's detailed proposal, obtained by the Globe, indicates that the group is considering raising revenue by selling naming rights to the new stadium, leasing it to other teams, selling corporate sponsorships, and applying for government tax credits.

Already, Bok has been taking potential investors to Missouri to check out the stadium and has chosen the same architects to build a similar ballpark in Boston. The Missouri stadium, which holds about 8,000, features wide concourses and extensive brickwork.

Independent league ballparks generally are small, holding about 6,000 people. One of their big allures for fans is price: In Brockton, some tickets cost just $4. Even the expensive tickets are cheap in the minors. In Missouri, the ``Redbird Roost" lets fans sit in a special section and enjoy unlimited food from the concession stands for $22.50.

Bok said he is developing a formal proposal to BC High and is meeting with area elected officials and community groups . He said BC High makes sense because of its easy access to the highway and public transportation, the availability of parking, and the availability of land. Bok's team would most likely not buy the land.

School spokesman Justin C. Holmes said: ``Should we receive a formal proposal, we would consider it if, first, it met our obligation to provide the best educational experience possible for our students and, second, it was warmly received by the institutions and residents in our community."

Yunits, of the second group, said the Canadian-American league approached him last year about putting together another team in Massachusetts. He has been scouting sites since and said he has held preliminary discussions with UMass-Boston officials. He likes the idea that some baseball fans could travel by boat to the games. A spokesman for UMass-Boston could not be reached for comment.

The Red Sox remain the wildcard on whether they support a minor league team that's not affiliated with their club. Wrote Bok in a memo circulating to investors: ``To date, the Red Sox have publicly indicated neutrality" about the projects, ``but there is no guarantee that will continue."

In an interview, the Red Sox's executive vice president of public affairs, Charles Steinberg, said: ``We'll continue to watch as these stories unfold."

The two groups working on the baseball projects could combine. Both have discussed merging, but have not made any decisions. Yunits, the former Brockton mayor, said that his chief goal is to bring a minor league team to Boston, and that he is less concerned with which group wins.

``There's not a lot of money to be made here," he said. ``If he gets it, or we get it, that'd be great."

Sasha Talcott can be reached at stalcott@globe.com.

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