Boston College Reaffirms Stadium Plans on Brighton Campus

Graham Beck

Per a Heights report, Brighton Rec Plex construction would begin in 2016 and complete by 2018.

So you're telling me there's a chance?

Boston College reaffirmed its commitment to building new playing fields on its Brighton campus on Monday through a report in The Heights.  As reported, the playing fields were originally a top priority for the university, but they were forced down the list after approvals and discussions with surrounding neighbors imposed a forced sequence of events.

In the report, we learned the following:

It was submitted to the city of Boston in 2009 and approved in 2011, after a series of neighborhood hearings and agreement on the part of BC to alter the order of the projects. For example, the city required that the construction of the new residence hall be the first part of Phase One implemented, and that renovations of 2000 Commonwealth Ave. not begin until after construction of the new residence hall is underway. Had the city not imposed these guidelines, the University would have most likely made the moving of sports fields to Brighton Campus the first priority...

So that's good.

It means that Boston College wanted to (and still wants to) construct new playing surfaces on the Brighton campus.  But it also means the neighbors denied them the right to do this first.  The neighborhood hearings forced BC to reshuffle what got built when, a two-year process that took its submission in '09 up through its approval in '11.  It also likely meant that the new residence hall and renovation of 2000 Comm Ave would need to be completed before BC could undertake the renovation of the Cardinal's Residence or construction of the new rec plex.

BC announced the new rec plex would likely be built between 2016 and 2018.  It was announced that this would include a 1,500-seat baseball stadium and 500-seat softball stadium side-by-side with permanent fencing, something not currently enjoyed at Shea Field.  It would also include a multipurpose field for intramural sports and a field house for track and tennis.  Although the fields would be at the extreme lower point of Brighton campus, it would finally be a permanent home for the Eagles.

Upon moving the fields, Shea Field would be repurposed for undergraduate housing.  It would further allow for expansion of the Beacon St. Garage and construction of a Brighton Campus parking garage would expand the parking footprint for the Eagles by 850 spaces.  How or if those spots could be utilized for football is still unknown.  Likewise, Shea Field would receive new football practice fields built specifically for the team to utilize.

In terms of impact, this would be great for the baseball team.  I've long talked about the viability of Boston College baseball in my belief that it can exist and succeed under the right circumstances.  While I don't believe the construction of a stadium will ultimately be the reason why the team competes at a high level, it would go a long way to proving the school's public commitment to the program.

A 1,500-seat stadium also isn't much, but it does allow for expanded seating.  Likely, the Boston College baseball field would allow for permanent bleachers behind home plate and stretching to the beginning of both dugouts.  It would allow for an actual press box for media and game day personnel.  Most importantly, it would allow for quality turf that isn't as impacted by the elements, making Boston College a solid choice for high school tournament and playoff games.

Building the stadium reaffirms the commitment of the school to its programs in a very public manner.  As long as the school was quiet about baseball, we stood to believe that the program was on the chopping block.  If they are willing to invest in the stadium, it will quell the argument that the school is trying to axe baseball.  Baseball is very much an ACC sport, and competing in the sport is done on the field.  Winning at ACC baseball is not done by building a stadium.  But it does end the argument if the school would drop the sport for no reason.  Baseball winning is fixable, through time and patience, and with the stadium would come a higher ceiling for growth.  I'm willing to bet forcing BC to play home games at URI or Bryant also helped push the commitment a little bit further.

In short, there's nothing bad that comes from building it.

One thing is for certain - it appears that Boston College baseball's next recruiting cycle will allow for the program to possibly see its first pitch in a permanent home that is not Shea Field.  It also means that the master plan, long believed to be shelved, may finally start moving in the right, forward direction.

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