Letter to the Editor: Football League takes exception to councillor’s resolution

In a Malden City Council meeting on Tuesda,y February 5, 2013, a resolution was presented by Ward 2 City Councilor Steven Ultrino which has a negative impact on the prospect of bringing professional football to the City of Malden. The City Council voted to suspend its rules and allow action on resolution without any prior notice to the community or the National Spring Football League (NSFL). The resolution makes several direct statements about the NSFL and its plans to bring a professional sports team to Malden.
The NSFL chose Malden, Massachusetts, as the host city for the Boston Freedom Fighters team. The NSFL chose Malden from several under consideration in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts due to the team’s local ties. The League entered into negotiations last year with the City for the use of the newly-renovated Macdonald Stadium. The NSFL and the Stadium Commission came to an agreement last week after several public meetings and negotiation sessions.
The negotiations with the City included several concessions by the both sides. Mayor Gary Christenson facilitated the negotiations and voiced concerns for the citizens and neighbors throughout the discussions. While the issues presented several obstacles, both the Stadium Commission and the NSFL worked diligently to find a middle ground. The Stadium Commission argued strongly for mitigation for the neighbors and won several substantial concessions from the League. The Stadium Commission required that the League hold a public meeting in February with Ward 2 citizens prior to any hearing before the City Licensing Commission on the sale of beer at its six home games. This neighborhood meeting was agreed to without hesitation by the NSFL representatives. In fact, the NSFL and the Boston Freedom Fighters opened its tryouts to the community on February 16. The Stadium Commission also severely limited the sale of beer by the League. The League waived several national league business policies in order to meet the mayor’s and Stadium Commission’s requirements.
The NSFL will be the 1st Developmental Professional Football League dedicated to the growth and development of its players, coaches, staff, and team. It consists of eight teams around the country focused on the development of our members as professionals who exhibit the highest degree of teamwork, integrity, and leadership on and off the field. A major objective of the NSFL is to bring a great professional sports experience to our host communities. Additionally, all members will be expected to interact with their communities and local youth organizations through formal and informal outreach programs.
Mayor Christenson was quoted as saying, “I’m happy because this is something that has been in the works for several months now…I think it’s a good step for the league, the city, and the community as a whole.”
“The NSFL’s goal is to be a good neighbor and contributor to the community. We expect and demand that our presence in the city will be a positive experience for everyone. I am very pleased with how the negotiations were conducted and am comfortable that the agreement reached was fair to both sides,” said League representative William J. Spadafora.
It came as a surprise to the League representatives, after such good faith efforts less than one week ago, that City Councilor Steven Ultrino would take steps to jeopardize the results of the hard work by the City and League. The resolution was brought without a full and detailed discussion of the process thus far and failed to offer an opportunity for both sides to be heard.
In reaction to the vote last evening at the City Council, the League representatives had this to say: “It is unfortunate that the City Council has acted without allowing us the opportunity to discuss with the Council our plans concerning Macdonald Stadium. We have diligently worked on these plans for the last six months and had thought that Ward 2 Councilor Ultrino would have been in agreement with further open dialogue. It seems inconsistent with his voiced opinions at the last Stadium Commission meeting that all decisions should occur after open public discussions.”
The Ward 2 public meeting is scheduled for February 21, 2013. In addition, the public is invited to attend and enjoy the open tryouts on February 16, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Macdonald Stadium. All in attendance will get the chance to meet the coaches and staff, which include several former NFL players.
The action comes after three open meetings with the Stadium Commission, only the last of which the Ward 2 Councilor attended, and multiple conversations between the City and the NSFL representatives. In addition, the League approached the Ward 2 Councilor several months ago and sought to open discussions about the issues.
At this time, the League is examining its options to leave the City and has reopened discussions with the other competing cities.


Mark Lawhorne

Boston Freedom Fighters Football