After planning an independent ballpark in Boston suburb Malden first, developer Alex Bok has shifted towards affiliated baseball. The Field of Dreams project was first projected to become a Atlantic Association ballpark, even though there never was a deal with the league.
After negotiating in the past months, MiLB has granted permission to Bok to explore having an affiliated Minor League Baseball team in Malden.
With this permission, Alex Bok now has time until January 31st to see if any affiliated minor league club is willing to move.
Minor League Baseball President O’Conner clarified in a letter that permission to explore does not imply approval of moving a team to Malden, which would need to be approved separately.
But to make this work, there are three demands Bok has to meet: First, Bok needs to hammer out a new deal with National Grid to acquire the land, as well as any newly identified adjjacent pieces of land. Second, he needs to finalize a financing deal. Third, he needs to come up with a tenant acceptable to Minor League Baseball, the team’s league and the Boston Red Sox. There are three leagues operating in this area: the International League (AAA), the Eastern League (AA) and the New York-Penn League (A Short Season).
To make the ballpark financially feasible it could also serve as home for the Boston City Football Club, a member of the tier 4 National Premier Soccer League, a FIFA-recognized league (Major League Soccer, for comparison, is a tier 1 league).
In a letter to the Malden city council, Bok explained the advantages of attracting an affiliated baseball team: “The benefits of having an affiliated team rather than an Independent league team, which was the original proposal when this process began are many, including that there is a player development contract with a Major League team which supplies its prospects, manager and coaches to the team. Unlike Independent league baseball teams, it is not unusual for many of the players on an affiliated minor league team to later play in the major leagues.”
To make this work, a possible tennant may be the Pawtucket Red Sox. The team has been looking for other places as the owners were not happy with their current stadium. But they have adjusted their demands and it seems that they are willing to stay in Pawtucket.
The history of the club wanting to move is still fresh. The club will be closer to the parent club if it moves to Malden. And nowadays it is a trend to move your affilated teams closer to home. Don’t be surprised if the owners of the PawSox will jump in.
The original plans of the ballpark projected a 6,372 seater. If Malden wants to lure a AAA team, the capacity must be expanded to 10,000 at least. And that will drive up the price of the $60MM ballpark.
Anyhow, it will be a hell of a job for Alex Bok to meet all demands before January 31st. We need to tip our caps if he makes it in time.