The plans for Boston College Athletics to enter the 21st century will have one less roadblock.
On Tuesday evening, the Allston-Brighton Community Task Force met to discuss BC’s plans to build baseball and softball fields on the Brighton Campus. The eight-person board approved the plans 7-to-1, moving the plans onto the next phase at the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The project has already been approved in the Institutional Master Plan, yet the task force provided an opportunity for people to air concerns among residents in the area. The plan then goes to the Boston Redevelopment Authority on Sept. 15, before construction can fully go underway.
“The approval today tells us that Boston College is doing a great job,” said Thomas J. Keady, Jr., vice president of governmental and community affairs, and one of the leaders of the Institutional Master Plan project.
BC’s new athletics complex will be in the northern part of the Brighton Campus, bordered by Anselm Terrace, Thomas A. Edison K-8 School, and Glenmont Rd. to the north; Lane Park and Campus Lane to the south; and Lake St. to the west. It will include a 1,000-seat baseball stadium—down from the original 1,500 seats—with FieldTurf, lighting fixtures, a press box, sound system, and batting cages. The seats will be 12 rows back behind home plate, with seating extending beyond the first-base dugout. There will be protective netting that extends beyond both dugouts. Fans, specifically students, will also have an opportunity to sit on St. Clement’s Hill beyond the outfield wall.
BC also will add a 300-seat softball field with all of the same amenities as the baseball field, as well as an intramural field. The plans also includes a 3,000-square-foot fieldhouse that includes bathrooms and concession stands, as well as a parking lot with room for about 750 vehicles.
The plan assured preservation of as much of the green footprint of the campus as possible. BC intends to keep 154 trees and plant an additional 50 or so, while removing 39, many of which have already been deemed sickly. BC will also work with the land to create the field. Though it will be turf instead of natural grass, that surface will only extend to the field of play—all additional surfaces will remain grass. Softball will also be on the ground level, where it currently exists, while baseball will have an elevated concourse as what fits with the land.
BC also presented a plan for both sound and lighting on the fields, both of which were voiced as concerns by the board and members of the community. The light poles will stand between 70 and 90 feet: baseball will have eight, softball will have six, and intramural will have four. All of the light poles are specifically designed to point toward the field and minimize the amount that spills into the surrounding area.
Athletics will also implement a state-of-the-art sound system designed to minimize noise pollution in the neighborhood. BC provided a study that shows that, on average, the area around the Brighton Campus emits 50 to 70 decibels during the day. This sound system, plus the crowd noise, is projected to be about 80 to 85 decibels at peak volume (defined as cheering after a home run) around the seats.
The construction leaders asserted that there will be a “hard-knee” compression system on the speakers. After studies have been finalized, they will preset a maximum level for the speakers that cannot be surpassed once installed, nor can it be revised. Keady believes that, despite the initial pushback, this is the ideal and most agreeable plan for BC and the community.
“The project was approved in the master plan, but once this is built, we’re really going to have to make sure that the sound and the lighting is what we say it’s going to be,” Keady said. “This isn’t like Shea Field, where you’re going to buy some speakers at RadioShack and play it. If I lived beside where it’s really quiet and beautiful and dogs are running, and now we have a baseball field, I’d be here, too. I applaud these people.”
BC estimates that baseball will play six to 10 evening games, with potential start times anywhere between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Athletics could not give a definitive answer on start times, given that any that will be on television will be dictated by ESPN and the new ACC Network, the latter of which is coming in 2019. A majority of baseball and softball games will be in the typical eight-week period of April and May, when weather in New England allows for the sport to be played.
The move to Brighton will give both baseball and softball a more consistent playing surface than the natural grass and dirt of Shea Field, which has been hampered by the effects of bad weather on the natural grass. It will also provide fans with extensive seating options, especially when compared to the parking garage. The estimated time of completion for the new fields will be for the 2018 season.
The approved master plan also calls for a 60,000-square-foot athletics building, which Keady refers to as “Phase Two.” This will include a locker room for baseball and softball on Brighton. Overall, however, BC Athletics is more than happy with the plan, according to Deputy Athletics Director Jamie Seguin.
“I think this is a great facility and great aspect for our student-athletes and our programs,” Seguin said. “We’re really excited for them to have this facility.”
Featured Image Courtesy of the Boston Redevelopment Authority