Draft lease sheds light on Kraft soccer plans

Dorchester deal included new stadium, mitigation, rent

BOB KRAFT DIDN’T ASK for any government subsidies when he sought to build a soccer stadium on the former site of the Bayside Exposition Center in Dorchester’s Columbia Point neighborhood in 2017. 

The deal ultimately fell apart due to neighborhood opposition and an inability to negotiate the purchase of an adjacent land parcel. Kraft issued a statement at the time saying he was prepared to spend more than $250 million on the project, but the precise terms of the deal were never disclosed. 

Now, after a year-and-a-half public records fight, the University of Massachusetts Building Authority, which owns the land, has turned over a series of draft lease agreements negotiated by the authority and Kraft. 

The deal called for Kraft to foot the bill for a stadium seating 20,000 to 25,000 people. The more recent draft lease also required Kraft to give the state as much as $1.5 million a year in mitigation payments for 25 years, to kick in $2.5 million a year in rent payments to the UMass Building Authority, and to provide additional rent to the authority if annual ticket sales exceeded 1 million. (The extra rent would be $1 for each soccer ticket and $2 for tickets to non-soccer events beyond the threshold.) 

The lease was scheduled to run for up to 99 years, at the end of which the UMass Building Authority would own the stadium. 

The deal fell through when concerns were raised about traffic congestion in the area and the lack of public input. Kraft also failed to convince the Boston Teachers Union to sell him – at a price he considered reasonable – an adjacent parcel of land he needed to make the deal work. 

The UMass Building Authority, citing four exemptions to the state Public Records Law as well as attorney-client privilege, refused to release the documents.  

CommonWealth appealed the authority’s decision to Rebecca Murray, the state’s supervisor of public records. She sided with the magazine six times, but the authority each time refused to turn the documents over. Only after the case was turned over to Attorney General Maura Healey and she threatened to take the authority to court did the authority relent and release the documents. 

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Kraft has made no secret of the fact he is on the lookout for a new location for a soccer stadium. Judging from the draft leases with the UMass Building Authority, his financial commitment to the project is very different from the financial commitment the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate is making to Worcester for a new stadium there. 

In Worcester, the deal calls for the city to own the stadium and the team to pay roughly $36 million of the $86-$90 million cost. The city plans to finance the balance of the cost using revenue from taxes, fees, and parking associated with the project. The state is also investing roughly $35 million in infrastructure improvements and market-rate housing supports to make the overall development project work.