The New York Post’s Fred Dicker revealed MLS was closing in on a proposed $300 million, 25,000 seat stadium in the heart of Flushing Meadows Park. If all falls into place, construction could begin as early as next year, which is shocking to many long time soccer fans of the area who saw the New York/New Jersey Metrostars struggle for years to secure a home ground.
Now, some major political weight has been thrown behind the movement as well.
“There’s enormous support for a soccer stadium from what we can tell from elected officials and from local officials in the area,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Bloomberg News after a Manhattan press conference. “In Queens, in particular, soccer is a very big game.”
Bloomberg, who has always played a visible role over the years in the thriving Cosmos Copa tournaments, has seen the borough’s embrace of the World’s game first hand.
Though ambitious, and supported by top and local officials, the project is far from a guarantee. “You can’t take park land away for another use unless you get Albany to go along, and you got to replace it with other park land,” Bloomberg told WNYC on Monday.
Still, there was a silver lining in his warning. “My understanding is there’s a lot of sentiment in Albany that they would be willing to do it.”
A major ally in the effort is Governor Andrew Cuomo. “We support bringing Major League Soccer to New York and are working with MLS to make that a reality,” spokesperson Rich Azzopardi told Bloomberg News.
While the big players have jumped on board, local politicians like State Senator Jose Peralta continue to push the project. Just two weeks ago, Peralta appeared on NY1 discussing the subject of the stadium as part of a total revitalization of the Roosevelt avenue area.
The rapid gears in motion are a far cry from the struggles the Metrostars/New York Red Bulls endured to bring their stadium to the banks of the Passaic in Harrison, New Jersey. In a project that was burdened by delays and red tape, talks that began in 2004 for a new stadium to open in 2006 turned out to be a wait that would last until 2010.
With the league behind the project instead of a lone ownership group, stadium dealings have been put on an unprecedented fast track. If all falls into place, a $100 million franchise pricetag would be up for grabs to operate the team. Currently, two major ownership groups, including the Seamus O’Brien led New York Cosmos and a group featuring CONCACAF heavy weight Chuck Blazer and New York Jet Curtis Martin, have expressed interest in ownership.