Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Boston/Foxborough in good position for World Cup in 2026

By Zachary Baru

It's official - the World Cup will come to North American in 2026.  Fortunately for Boston and Foxborough, the area looks to be well-positioned to host yet another World Cup.

Back in 1994, Foxboro Stadium hosted World Cup matches, but a lot has changed in Boston and in Foxborough since then.  The Big Dig, Gillette Stadium, more hotels, an improved transit system and an MBTA rail line that connects the stadium with Downtown Boston and Providence.

 When it comes to infrastructure, Boston can both be looked at as a great host city, or a poor candidate.  While public transit is more sophisticated than many other potential host cities, and the commuter rail has improved, the constant back-up on Boston-area highways is hard to overlook.  And anyone who has driven to Patriots games or a major concert in Foxbourgh knows, Route 1 has constant stand-still traffic.  Yet the advances Boston has made in commuter rail, including a CSX-owned MBTA line right to Gillette Stadium, certainly helps Boston's chances.  A 10-car train could easily transport 1,000 people, as single-level MBTA rail cars can hold 86-127 people per car, while bi-level cars can hold 175-185 people.

MBTA bi-level rail cars can fit 175-185 passengers per car.
Many of the other potential host cities do not have elaborate commuter rail systems, and by no means do they have comparable transit systems including subway and bus.  Combine this to an international airport close to downtown and easily accessible via highway and public transit, Boston is in very good position when it comes to infrastructure.



Another category Boston has in its favor is the amount of hotel rooms available in the area, which is much higher than many of the other potential host cities.  The stadium itself has two major hotels right at Patriot Place - the new Hilton Garden Inn and Renaisssance Boston - which would be perfect for officials, teams and media.

Which brings us to the venue itself, Gillette Stadium.  The stadium has seen several renovations since its 2002 opening, keeping it very modern with all of the amenities National Football League fans, players, officials and media expect.  Not to mention it sits on the grounds of Patriot Place, a destination for fans with shopping, restaurants, a movie theater, walking trail and of course the two hotels.

All of this puts Boston/Foxborough at the top of the list for potential host cities.  In fact, Boston appeared third on a list last week by the Washington Post of potential host cities.  Boston has a lot to offer, and hopefully in 2026, Boston will show this off to the entire world.

Cities Under Consideration for 2026 World Cup Games:
Boston
New York
Montreal 
Toronto
Philidelphia
Washington
Cincinnatti
Nashville
Atlanta
Orlando 
Miami
Kansas City
Dallas
Houston
Monterrey
Guadalajara
Mexico City
Denver
Edmonton
Seattle
San Jose
Los Angeles

Source: Washington Post, Kawasaki

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at zachbaru@gmail.com.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Why the NCAA Tournament had much more of a "Boston" feel at TD Garden

By Zachary Baru

The 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional at TD Garden may not have had any local teams, but last weekend the venue included a lot more of the city than the previous time the tournament stopped in Boston.

Actually, you could multiply the Boston influence by 23 times to be exact.  That's because in 2012, the last time TD Garden was chosen to host the tournament, every professional championship banner had to be removed.

NCAA regulations forced TD Garden to remove the banners of professional teams.  This was a little bit of a problem for a venue that is home to 6 Stanley Cup championships for the Bruins, and 17 World Championships for the Boston Celtics.

Fortunately for Boston fans, in 2018 the NCAA allowed TD Garden to keep all championship banners for the Celtics and Bruins.  Not only did this help out TD Garden staff enormously, who already had enough on their plate to ensure the venue was ready, but this also gave Boston fans and the estimated 8,000-10,000 visitors from out of town a chance to embrace in everything that is the tradition of Boston sports.

Although the famed parquet floor was not allowed, or any other local floor throughout the tournament, at least the banners gave the tournament's stop in Boston a little bit of a local feel.  Not to mention a small Boston College logo on the corner of the court, given to the school for being the host of the East Regional.

The tournament also helped the city economically, and in impressive fashion.  The two-night, three-game event last weekend was projected to bring in $25 million in economic impact, filling hotels, restaurants, shops and other establishments throughout the city.

The NCAA Tournament provided a big economic boost for the city, a reminder to all sports fans worldwide that Boston can be a great host city, and an amazing weekend for basketball fans throughout the region.  And yes, a reminder to all sports fans watching about the 23 titles that will forever live in The Garden.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at zachbaru@gmail.com.