What’s next for Robert Kraft and his decade-long quest to build a soccer stadium for his New England Revolution?
The billionaire is running out of options in Boston, where many potential properties are getting gobbled up by developers.
“I’m not sure where else in Boston we could put a soccer stadium that would have the infrastructure,” Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh told WGBH on Friday. “We have to think and see where else potentially this could go in the city.”
Kraft’s latest effort fell through Thursday when the University of Massachusetts confirmed that a stadium for the Bayside Expo Center site the school owns near its Dorchester campus was not “feasible at this point.”
Kraft and his son, Jonathan, issued a statement Friday afternoon saying the UMass project would have been privately financed at a cost of more than $250 million, and the school would have received a market-rate rent for the land.
The project had been criticized by Dorchester and South Boston officials, in part because of the traffic impact from the stadium. The Krafts did not address that criticism directly, but said talks collapsed “for reasons beyond our control.”
“It is our goal to continue to seek development opportunities where we can invest in a soccer specific stadium that will benefit its surrounding communities while giving our fans and our players a venue they will be proud to call home for generations to come,” the Krafts wrote.
The Krafts on Friday released images of a luminous stadium by the water, with one rendering showing how it could incorporate the building owned by the Boston Teachers Union, whose headquarters next to the stadium site became a sticking point in negotiations.
Massachusetts economic affairs secretary Jay Ash said the Baker administration will try to help the Krafts find a location.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Kraft group on the possibilities of locating a world-class soccer stadium here in Massachusetts,” he said.
The Revolution share home games with the New England Patriots at the cavernous Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Most Major League Soccer teams today play in stadiums that seat about 20,000, often in urban settings close to the young city-dwellers the league has targeted.
The Krafts have considered at least six Greater Boston locations since 2006. But there are fewer opportunities today than when they started the quest for a Revolution home.
Suffolk Downs is about to be sold to developer Tom O’Brien, and it’s unlikely a stadium is in his plans. Harvard University is redeveloping a large tract in Allston, but it is not easily accessed by public transit. Harvard was also cool to the idea of building sports facilities as part of Boston’s failed 2024 Olympic bid.
There’s a city tow lot hard by the Southeast Expressway near Widett Circle in South Boston that the Krafts explored. But that property would have to go out to bid. And with the surrounding neighborhood under intense development pressure, the city property could be worth more than the Krafts are willing to pay.
The Krafts have previously considered sites in Boston’s neighboring cities, such as Wonderland, the former dog track at the end of the Blue Line in Revere. It’s essentially vacant, but a buyer seems to be lined up. Somerville’s Assembly Square, another previously considered site, is filling up with stores, offices, and apartments, and an industrial area near McGrath Highway in Somerville is a tangled web of property ownership.
Robert Kraft’s friend, casino developer Steve Wynn, is amassing properties near his gaming complex in Everett. But a spokesman said Wynn has no interest in partnering up there.
The Krafts are in the challenging position of competing in a hot market for the few properties close to public transit that are large enough for a stadium, said David Begelfer, head of real estate group NAIOP Massachusetts.
And in a city that has been skeptical of public subsidies for sports projects, rejecting not only the Olympics two years ago but Kraft’s proposed South Boston stadium for the Patriots in the 1990s, it’s unlikely such a project would get public funding, as have other MLS stadiums elsewhere.
“Land costs are going to be quite high,” Begelfer said. “A stadium is going to have to come in and compete for a really large land area that could be used for other purposes.”
Shirley Leung of the Globe staff contributed to this report.