BOSTON-City Councilor Michael Flaherty has called for a review of plans to build a ballpark in South Boston’s waterfront district. The South Boston native is the first political leader from this area to embrace the potential idea. “He believes that the possibility has been ignored and its time to explore the opportunity,” Stephen Crawford, spokesperson for Flaherty tells, in explaining Flaherty’s reasons for coming forward now.

Until now, the plan has been for the Boston Red Sox to build a new ballpark right next to the old one in the Fenway area. That plan has apparently been stalled by the lack of support from the City Council, which needs to give approval for the Sox to take the land in Fenway by eminent domain and approve the $140 million it would cost to buy the land.

“The city proposal to build a ballpark next to Fenway is dead,” points out Crawford. “The votes from the City Council on the eminent domain issue are not there and the votes for providing the $140 million are not there.” A plan to rebuild Fenway Park has been floating around for the past few weeks, but Crawford declares that rebuilding the 1912 ballpark is “not possible.”

It has long been assumed that South Boston residents were opposed to a ballpark in their district. Five years ago when Robert Kraft, the New England Patriots owner, suggested a stadium on the waterfront he was chased out of town. Crawford insists that a ballpark is different and this plan is different.

“This would not be as close to the residential neighborhood and a ballpark only has 81 games a year. The stadium would have shows that would bring a lot of people in,” he points out.

Crawford also notes that there have been major transportation improvements in the last five years. The MBTA has added the silver line that would run by the ballpark and the Big Dig is dramatically changing I-90, he says.

Frank McCourt, who owns 25 acres on the waterfront near the new convention center, has been aggressively campaigning to have the ballpark built on his property. He has reportedly been meeting with a number of political leaders here, including, confirms Crawford, Flaherty.

“He felt McCourt made a compelling argument,” says Crawford, “and he’s been briefing people that it is something he is considering.” Mayor Thomas M. Menino did not return calls by presstime, but he has been supportive of building the new ballpark in Fenway.

“This could be a marquee location,” says Crawford. “The Convention Center and the ballpark would become destinations with sports bars, T-shirt shops and restaurants. It would be an entertainment location rather than an area for upscale condos. It would bring a flavor to the neighborhood.”

According to Crawford, a ballpark on the waterfront could also benefit the city. An underground cut-through, which was originally part of the Big Dig, from the Back Bay to the new Convention Center was shelved when it was clear that expenses were getting out of control. If the city does not have to buy the Fenway park land, Crawford adds, the $100 million it was going to put up for that purchase can go to building the cut-through under the rubric of infrastructure improvements for the new ballpark.

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