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McCourt touts ballpark plan

By Meg Vaillancourt, Globe Staff, 10/18/2000

With Major League Baseball poised to approve his application to bid on the Boston Red Sox, South Boston landowner Frank McCourt last night touted his property as an ideal site for a new Fenway Park at a meeting with over 200 neighborhood residents.

The event was part of a series of meetings McCourt has held with South Boston community leaders designed to build support for his waterfront ballpark proposal.

"Frank McCourt's property is the only site we will consider,'' said South Boston resident Bill "Touchy'' McDonough. "If you ask about any other South Boston sites ... the answer is no.''

McCourt and his supporters repeatedly argued that a ballpark built on his land near the federal courthouse could improve traffic in the area, presuming that lawmakers will allow the $100 million in state infrastructure aid included in the new Fenway ballpark bill adopted last year to be used on the South Boston site.

However, one resident speaking in favor the plan cautioned that with or without a new ballpark, the waterfront area will need twice as much improvement money to address traffic and transit needs.

"There are a lot of major challenges down there,'' said Robert O'Shea, who said that as a community liaison to the Central Artery Project he has reviewed transit links in South Boston. "I think it will cost $200 million to get this done. But if we could get the money to make the improvements needed, I'd be for it.''

O'Shea noted that an important thoroughfare, the East Service Road, currently slices through McCourt's proposed site.

City and state transportation officials say that relocating the road would be expensive since several ramps connecting the Massachusetts Turnpike, and Central Artery and the Third Harbor Tunnel are slated to be built off the road.

At the meeting, several South Boston political leaders including City Councilors James Kelly and Michael Flaherty encouraged residents to consider McCourt's plan as a way to get additional state infrastructure funds.

McCourt declined to comment on his prospective bid for the team last night.

In the past, however, he has told political leaders that his ballpark proposal was contingent on an agreement that would allow him to become the controlling partner of the Red Sox.

But without deep pocketed partners this may prove difficult. The Red Sox are being sold on a cash-only basis so McCourt cannot use the value of his land in making a bid.

Meg Vaillancourt can be reached by e-mail at vaillancourt@globe.com.

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