by JAKE NUTTING
Rocco B. Commisso has two months and change to find the New York Cosmos a new home venue for the 2017 season, and the owner seems to be weighing a number options.
The team’s previous ownership was close to a deal late last year to move to MCU Park in Brooklyn before the wheels fell off the operation and Commisso was needed to come in and salvage the Cosmos from the brink of collapse. Playing at the Coney Island venue remains a possibility. As EoS reported last week the operators of the minor-league baseball stadium kept dates open for the Cosmos to slip in if they survived the offseason.
While Hofstra University already informed the Cosmos they are not welcome back at James M. Shuart Stadium, Commisso did not rule out the idea of the team finding a landing spot somewhere else in Long Island.
“We don’t have a formal agreement, given everything that’s happened the last couple of months, we don’t have a formal agreement with anyone right now as where we’re going to play come April,” said Commisso. “But we have been negotiating with one, possibly two, as to where we’re going to play. Whether it’s a college stadium, or whether it’s a stadium in Long Island, those are likely choices today but, as of today, my preference is always within the five boroughs.”
Securing a facility inside the five boroughs that also meets the capacity requirements for the second division by the U.S. Soccer Federation is a monumental task, though Commisso could have the inside track for one location. Commisso acknowledged he is in what he stressed as “very early” discussions with his alma mater Columbia University about playing at the school.
Columbia’s soccer-specific stadium — which bears Commisso’s name for his many contributions to the school’s program over the last few decades — only seats 3,500, meaning it’s 1,500 short of the D2 requirement for stadium capacity. If a deal with Columbia were to get done, it might have to be for the school’s larger football stadium.
Other colleges have stepped up to court the Cosmos, though, according to Commisso.
“I know we’ve already had some colleges who have called me to see if we would consider them and I would leave it at, though,” he said. “I would say there’s a huge probability that we’re going to play within the five boroughs.”
The question of constructing a stadium came up during Commisso’s introductory media conference call on Tuesday, but he dismissed it as a non-pressing concern given the turmoil the team is pulling itself out of. He did however express an interest in exploring the idea of sharing a stadium with the city’s other teams like many around the world do, a suggestion in stark contrast to the mentality of the Cosmos previous owners.
“The ideal thing, frankly, would be to discuss if we need team-specific stadiums,” he stated. “We don’t have a stadium to begin with. Wouldn’t it be nice for the different teams in New York to combine and say lets build a stadium to share like in Rome or in England where multiple teams use the same stadium?”