Judge denies request for injunction against White Stadium renovation project

A Suffolk Superior Court judge on Friday denied a request for an injunction against the proposed renovation of Franklin Park’s White Stadium sought by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and others, including residents in the surrounding neighborhood. The plaintiffs have tried to stop the project, claiming that it didn’t go through the proper process and would effectively privatize a public space.

The proposed $80 million renovation of White Stadium is part of an agreement between Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration and Boston Unity Soccer Partners for use as the home field for Boston’s future National Women’s Soccer League team. The NWSL team is scheduled to begin play in 2026. Under the agreement, the stadium would continue to be used by Boston Public Schools for student athletics.

In the ruling, Judge Sarah Weyland Ellis rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the use of White Stadium by a for-profit soccer team would limit the public’s use and enjoyment of the facility.

“The Proposed Use Agreement, establishing the hierarchy of Stadium uses, further reinforces the predominant public purpose,” the ruling reads. “The scheduling of professional soccer games and practices would be preempted by BPS sporting events and ceremonies, as well as public festivals and events. The private benefits are not primary, but instead subsidiary to White Stadium’s public purposes.”

In a statement, Boston Unity Soccer Partners said that the ruling “demonstrates the court’s understanding that the communities around Franklin Park and White Stadium should not have to wait any longer for the decades of neglect and underuse to be addressed.”

The group also wrote in the statement that they believe that there is no legal basis for the lawsuit and that “this public, private, community partnership can be realized.” They also wrote that they will continue to seek feedback from those impacted by the proposed changes.

“We invite the Emerald Necklace Conservancy to participate with us and welcome the opportunity to collaborate,” the statement said. “We are proud to be part of a project that honors the legacy of White Stadium so that it will continue to serve as a point of pride for generations to come.”

In a statement, Karen Mauney-Brodek, president of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, urged the city to abandon what she described as a “flawed privatization scheme” not supported by any neighborhood groups.

“Instead, support the stadium and the park with the $50 million in taxpayer funds they’ve already identified,” Mauney-Brodek wrote. “We will continue to stand up for the students of Boston, who deserve a state-of-the-art public art White Stadium and should not have to yield to the demands of for-profit investors to get it.”

According to a survey of more than 700 park users from the Franklin Park Coalition that was released earlier this month, 32% of respondents were “all for” the project, 24% “cautiously support” it, 25% “have some concerns” and 20% were against it. In a statement tied to the release of the survey results, Franklin Park Coalition board president Rickie Thompson expressed support for the project.

In a statement, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu celebrated the judge’s decision.

“I’m thrilled to see the court’s clear ruling that this frivolous lawsuit from the Emerald Necklace Conservancy must not block our ongoing community engagement to deliver a generational investment in White Stadium and Franklin Park,” she said in the statement. “Now, for the first time since the stadium’s opening, the City has a committed partnership to invest in and sustain the improvements that our students, park lovers, and neighbors deserve—while dramatically expanding the hours of usage for BPS sports and community events. “