Will the Revolution get a soccer stadium in Everett?   

By Conor Yunits, Executive Vice President

A rendering of the proposed New England Revolution soccer stadium in Everett. Via New England Revolution

On the banks of the Mystic River, not far from where Sean Penn deposited Tim Robbins, sits the Mystic Generating Station, an aging power plant set to be decommissioned by Constellation New Energy at the end of next month. For years there has been rampant speculation that the site could eventually become the local home of men’s professional soccer, rumors that finally emerged in some detail and renderings yesterday at the State House. But are we any closer to construction and a ribbon cutting? Not really.   

 As you’ve probably heard, the Kraft Group, owner of the New England Revolution, are interested in building a long-desired soccer-specific stadium on this 43-acre site in Everett’s Lower Broadway District, which abuts the Encore Boston Harbor casino and could also serve as an outdoor concert venue. The long-debated stadium seemed to make progress yesterday when the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Economic Development & Emerging Technologies held a hearing at which Everett officials and Revolution executives testified. Yet the reality is that the process of permitting and building a new Revs stadium in Everett has barely even kicked off, due in part to the unique challenges of the site itself.  

The existing power plant sits on waterfront property that in most communities would be ideal for development. But there’s a big catch: the site is inside a Designated Port Area (DPA), one of ten such areas in Massachusetts. DPAs were created by the Commonwealth more than 40 years ago to: 

“Promote and protect water-dependent industrial uses… such as commercial fishing, shipping, and other vessel-related marine commercial activities—and/or for manufacturing, processing, research, and production activities that require marine transportation or access to large volumes of water.” 

In short, that DPA designation means that the power plant site, which was sold to Wynn Resorts (owner of the adjacent casino) last year for $25 million, cannot be developed into any residential or commercial uses (no apartments, condos, lab space, or office space – not even a marina), including a soccer stadium. 

Yesterday’s hearing at the State House was to consider S. 2692, a bill filed by State Senator Sal DiDomenico that would remove the site at 173 Alford Street from the Mystic DPA solely for the purpose of creating a “professional soccer stadium and a waterfront park.” DiDomenico’s bill provides that, should a “reasonable time” pass (at least five years) and the stadium and park are not permitted and constructed, the site would then fall back into the DPA, essentially meaning that the only near-term options for this site are soccer or water-dependent industrial use.  

In passionate testimony in support of the bill, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria called on legislators to recognize the impact that nearly a century of industrial uses has had on his constituents.  

“Everett has borne the industrial burden long enough,” DeMaria said. The Mayor also noted that there was no deal with the Kraft Group or the Revolution yet (though there is a Memorandum of Agreement), and that a public process could not even begin until the site was removed from the DPA.  

Therein lies the rub. Even if DiDomenico’s bill passed tomorrow (spoiler alert: it will not), that would merely be the first step in what could be a years -long process to get a soccer stadium built in Everett.  

So, what could this timeline look like? 

First, the DPA issue needs to be addressed, which not only means winning over legislators, but assuaging concerns from a number of interested parties, including:  

Assuming all these parties can be satisfied, both the House and the Senate on Beacon Hill will have to pass DiDomenico’s bill or include some version of it in another piece of legislation. Any differences between the House and Senate versions would have to be a hashed out in conference committee – oh, and they only have until July 31 to get this done, or the bill would likely meet the same fate it met last fall.  

Second, if the DPA legislation PASSES, the Kraft Group and the Revolution would then need to begin the public permitting process in Everett. Kraft executives at the hearing said they “viewed the hearing as the first of many public discussions on the project,” which would also have to survive lengthy state environmental (MEPA) and waterfront (Chapter 91) permitting processes.  

Third, even if all these permits are approved and the community is on board, the site has hosted power plants for more than half a century. It will need an intense and costly remediation effort, something DeMaria addressed in his remarks.  

“We also need this legislation because the history of my hometown has shown that it takes well-financed private interest to clean up former industrial sites that need costly environmental remediation,” DeMaria said. 

All told, even if the DPA legislation passes before the end of the legislative session in July, it could take every day of that five-year window outlined in the bill to get the Revolution their long-awaited soccer stadium in Everett. In the meantime, Revs fans will have to make do with Gillette Stadium, enjoy the World Cup in 2026, and, as a fallback plan, maybe redefine professional soccer as a water-dependent industrial use.  

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