A rendering provided by The Kraft Group shows a potential new stadium in Everett for the New England Revolution proposed for the site of a decommissioned power plant on the Everett waterfront. Image courtesy of The Kraft Group

The Senate will dig into a massive economic development package Thursday after top Democrats on Monday morning released their own vision for how Massachusetts should pursue job and economic growth opportunities going forward.

The Senate’s bill (S.2856) authorizes $2.44 billion in borrowing, giving the executive branch flexibility to put as much of that amount into use as it determines is necessary and wise, and $350 million in tax credits mostly to be deployed in the climate technology sector.

It also includes a number of policy provisions, including clearing the way for a professional soccer stadium to be built on a blighted parcel in Everett. The House and Senate have both supported the idea over the past few years, but have not been able to get on the same page at the same time.

The Kraft family, which owns the New England Revolution, and others in the area have been eyeing a parcel of land in Everett that’s home to a defunct power plant as the potential new home for the team. They’d need legislative action to remove the land from a designated port area, and lawmakers so far have been unable to get on the same page.

The Kraft Group says they could transform the blighted land parcel along the Mystic River, situated at 173 Alford St., into a 25,000-seat soccer stadium for the Revolution, who currently play at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

House Passed on Stadium

The House supported making a similar change via an amendment to its 2022 economic development bill, but the proposal did not survive negotiations with the Senate. Last year, the Senate backed the stadium push in a spending bill, but the House did not get on board.

This year is no different: The Senate’s bill includes language to remove the land from a designated port area – a necessary first step before any development review can begin – but the House declined to take the same step in its bill last month.

“Soccer is one of the fastest-growing sports, and we feel that this could be a real benefit not only to Everett, but to the greater Boston area. We think it makes a lot of sense,” said Economic Development Committee Co-chair Sen. Barry Finegold.

Some community and environmental groups have opposed the potential development, arguing that removing the designated port area could complicate clean energy goals.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has also pushed to give her city a say in the stadium’s development due to traffic impacts on Charlestown’s Sullivan Square. A bus rapid transit line planned by the MBTA to connect its Orange Line Sullivan Square station and Everett via the stretch of road that separates the stadium site from the Encore Boston Harbor casino got a significant boost last month via a $22.4 million federal grant to build the associated stops and separated lane infrastructure.

Sen. Sal DiDomenico of Everett, who filed the bill to allow the parcel to be developed for a stadium, said Monday that it would help his community clean up a power plant site that has been a health and environmental hazard for decades.

“Signing this bill will allow the public process to move forward on a project that will be an economic catalyst and environmental win for my constituents,” he said. “This will open up the possibility for hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment, cleanup of a hazardous waste site, create good paying jobs, and open our waterfront for the public to enjoy.”

Senate Halves Life Science Investment

In late June, the House voted 155-2 to pass its own economic development bill (H.4789) that largely mirrors the version Gov. Maura Healey proposed. That bill features $3.4 billion in long-term bond authorizations and an additional $700 million in tax credits, including investments to reauthorize the life sciences initiative for another decade and make a parallel investment in “climatetech.”

Asked why the Senate chose to authorize less borrowing, specifically for the life sciences industry, the bill’s lead architect said senators were comfortable with the smaller authorization.

“We are very bullish on life science and we continue to be very supportive,” said Finegold. “We think that by putting the numbers that we put forward, it will make a huge impact. Obviously, we have a version, the House has a version and the governor has a version. I think we’ll find a number that everyone can agree on. We’re very comfortable with the number we put forward.”

The House proposed $500 million for the Mass Life Sciences Center to provide grants and loans to grow businesses in Massachusetts, while Senate Democrats suggested only $225 million to support the reauthorization of the Life Sciences Initiative.

Though the Senate’s proposal authorizes less borrowing, it also provides the life sciences center more flexibility by adding health equity, biosecurity, digital health and artificial intelligence to its mission. The bill further expands program eligibility to the so-called alternative protein industry, and redefines “life sciences” to include preventative medicine, biosecurity, life sciences AI, and medical technology, according to Finegold’s office.

Bill Boosts Climate Tech

Finegold emphasized the climate tech investments in the Senate’s version of the bill, which are similar to what the House passed last month with $400 million in bond authorizations and $300 million in tax credits.

Both House and Senate drafts break that $400 million into two $200 million investments — one for a Clean Energy Investment fund to support the development of climate tech businesses, and another support the nascent wind industry in Massachusetts with workforce development, deployment and research and development.

The tax credits are meant to incentivize the growing climate technology field. Beacon Hill leaders want to be on the forefront of that industry, viewing it as a way to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and capture a profitable new sector for Massachusetts.

“We are number one in the country for per capita climate startups, and I think what we’re really trying to make sure of is that we keep these companies here,” Finegold said. “We have to also realize that we’re competing with California and New York, and we can’t be complacent, so we really made climate tech a big priority.”

The climate tech tax credit mirrors one that already exists for life science companies, for businesses exploring clean energy, decarbonization, emissions mitigation or other climate-related innovation. It allows up to $30 million per year over five years.

Senate Includes Everett Stadium in Economic Development Bill

by State House News Service time to read: 4 min
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