Not So Fast, NYCFC: Inwood Councilman Blasts Columbia Stadium Report

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If New York City FC hoped to build a 25,000 seat stadium on Columbia’s Bakers Field complex, they have already gotten off on the wrong foot.

That message was made clear by Inwood Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez who issued a damning statement on NYCFC’s plans, dressing down the franchise for their approach.

From the councilman’s press release:

[colored_box color=”blue”]The news that broke yesterday in the New York Times about a possible new soccer stadium in the Inwood section of my district is deeply troubling, and not a good beginning for any possible development project.

Any group with a real intention to develop any possible project should start by engaging the surrounding community that will be directly impacted by the proposal and its elected leaders.

For years community residents in this area have worked hard to ensure that the quality of life in this area is maintained and I believe that in order to preserve and build upon their gains, community engagement in this process is of utmost importance. I would like to believe that is mere speculation as neither the community nor myself, as the Council Member who is privileged to represent the area, has been informed of any such proposal.[/colored_box]

While an embarrassing slap in the face to the NYCFC franchise, it is worth noting that Rodriguez does not declare the project dead on arrival. However, the Inwood community was always going to be a hard sell — even before NYCFC botched their approach. A residential area, Inwood struggles in accommodating Columbia University’s large scale sporting events which are minuscule in comparison to the potential foot traffic of an MLS team. An influx of 25,000 fans though their modest confines and undersized transportation systems presents a very real concern.

But money and influence have a way of swaying minds. As the Times reports, NYCFC have offered a $400 million dollar reconstruction project focused on tearing down the 17,000 seat Wien Stadium in favor of a 25,000 seat complex. Further, they have also offered $30 million in renovation dollars for the surrounding athletic fields.

Whether that kind of money sways the local community — or their overlooked representative — is another matter all together.

  • Resguard

    At this point, I am pretty sure this was all rumor and it was just some media to fill dead air for now… This should all be ignored until NYCFC actually makes announcements on what they plan on doing. Though I hear they have been spotted in NJ recently looking at some land… (this is some sarcasm because media is going to jump onto anything)

  • Mix

    How knows what’ll happen? NYCFC does seem to have an outreach problem. (Maybe they’re buying too into the franchise model that’s prevalent in American sports culture?) But when NYC politicians say that “The community wasn’t consulted,” they usually mean, “No one’s come around to kiss my ass and offer me money.”

    • iSkyscraper

      That is 100% correct. Once NYC FC approached with their head bowed and talked about construction jobs and stadium jobs any local pol would snap back into line, regardless of what their actual constituents think.

      The real obstacle here is zoning, but that’s not as sexy a news story as a statement from a peeved pol.

      • Ulrich

        Zoning actually isn’t an issue like you make it out to be. Under the 1961 zoning resolution, colleges are allowed to build in residential zoning – in this case R7-2. And under another sub-heading, college stadiums (in said R7-2) do not need to supply any off-street parking. The current stadium (entire site) is grandfathered in to the old zoning regs. If this was an empty site and NYCFC tried to build there as the sole owner, then the zoning debate would be valid (as a commercial enterprise), but because Columbia is part of the equation, there’s no teeth to the argument.

        The local Councilman can hem & haw all he wants as a show of solidarity with his constituents, but he doesn’t have zoning on his side, and he’s only a single vote in the City Council.

        For it to even have gotten this far (leaking of proposal to the newspaper), a feasibility study would have already have been done and NYCFC would have a team of far more knowledgeable professionals working on this than the masses claiming Zoning and NIMBY.

        • iSkyscraper

          Good points all. If NYCFC is the primary tenant but Columbia remains owner on paper, that’s quite a loophole to drive through, but you’re right that obviously there is a way to do it or they would not have even considered it.

          Please stop with the name-calling though, that’s really not fair. This is no Park Slope bike lane, this is a 450% increase in attendance and an incalculable increase in noise, traffic and litter 20+ times from March to November instead of five fall Saturday afternoons. It’s really not fair to slander people with the NIMBY label when they have YIMBY’ed so much other stuff that most Americans would never tolerate in their backyards. (Bus depots, sanitation yards, subway yards, cable TV facilities, a hospital, etc.)

          As a side note, the local Councilman collects no votes from the area near the stadium. His hemming and hawing has little to do with his constituents in that area.

          • Ulrich

            It’s not a loophole at all, it’s the way the zoning regulations were written. Just like the hospital being able to be located in the R7-2 zone, that’s not a loophole either.

            Geez, you need to give it up with the sky is falling attitude. The increase in stadium capacity is going from 17,000 to the proposed 25,000. That is less than a 50% increase, or roughly 147% of the current capacity….. a far cry from 450% as you’re claiming (because you’re only looking at/cherry picking what Columbia draws each game, not what they can accommodate with a successful team). Look at it as your neighborhood has been fortunate that Columbia has had possibly the worst College football team for decades, so you’ve been playing with house money for years.

            Sorry if you take offense at being labeled as a NIMBY, but that’s exactly what it is – *ANYBODY* that claims they don’t want something in their neighborhood, ESPECIALLY when it’s legal and zoned for it, is arguing from a Not In My Backyard standpoint. There isn’t a grey area with it – it’s black and white because of the item you have (incorrectly) brought up countless times – ZONING. I get it that you don’t want a larger stadium across West 218th street, but a stadium is there to stay, whether the decrepit current stadium, or a brand new stadium that may actually invigorate the neighborhood with amenities that not only cater to the spectators, but also bring quality of life conveniences to such an isolated area.

            • iSkyscraper

              If Columbia has drawn an average of 4,000 to 6,000 fans per game for decades, that is not cherrypicking, that is the reality of many years. No Ivy League team anywhere draws much more than 10,000 per game regularly (with the exception of the one Harvard-Yale game each year). You can definitely say that we have been fortunate that this has been the case but it has produced a very good neighborhood balance, especially as the gradual decline in attendance over the decades coincided with an increase in car traffic, noise and lighting relating to games. Even so, football is 5 times a year on Saturday afternoons, not 20+ times from March to November. Ivy fans are also sedate, with more toddlers than students attending. The sky may not be falling but this sort of change alarms people with due reason – for example. no one currently sets off smoke bombs outside our windows:

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyG8fao4fL0#t=5m23s

              I still take insult to the word NIMBY since as a neighborhood we have been very open to many things in our backyards that few of you would put up with, only to be reduced by a single label to being apparently a bunch of selfish jerks. Maybe that is just me thinking that a proper NIMBY wants absolutely nothing in their backyard whereas you feel free slinging the term at someone who doesn’t want a specific, understandably problematic thing in their backyard for obivous reasons. BANANA vs NIMBY confusion on my part?

              I agree that you are correct about the zoning when it is a community facility being proposed for a residential area. The “grey area” refers to the definition of a community facility as described in the zoning text. And if not there they will be some grey, somewhere in the zoning process. (Perhaps, for example, the waterfront development requirement that tripped up the last new Columbia building at Baker – will the resolution of that issue apply to a future stadium also?)

              But your argument really falls apart in your last sentences. Of course the stadium is there to stay, we would be upset if it ever left. We don’t really mind whatever new stadium Columbia builds as long as it is for Columbia football, just as was done in 1984. But one is not currently needed since the current stadium is not decrepit in any sense of the word. Our neighborhood is popular and has high-value real estate; it is not in any particular need of invigoration. It is also residential and therefore technically incapable of adding additional amenities (such as stores and restaurants) near the stadium, if you even believe the disproved argument of stadiums as development tools. Our neighborhood is not “isolated”, it is tightly-knit. Where are you typing this from, Kansas?

              Now, if you are talking about a new football/soccer stadium on the east side of Broadway on Columbia-owned land around W220th St, some of your statements begin to make sense – no zoning fights, decrepit current uses, adding new stores and restaurants to add life, isolated area. Perhaps you too want a stadium on W220th and Broadway and do not realize it? Just leave the residential areas alone.

              • Ulrich

                Slinging insults? Just because you live there doesn’t mean you know diddly about city growth and or planning. I’m typing from Brooklyn (not Kansas), my father lives in your neighborhood (so I know his complaints about a total lack of amenities), and I’ve practiced architecture in the city for the last 20 years. Hell, my thesis in Graduate School was even on the development of Spuyten Duyvil, so I know a thing or two about your neighborhood. For that matter, I have a feeling I know quite a bit more about the “grey areas” of zoning than you ever will know, and to start with, there aren’t any – everything is spelled out and it’s black and white. As to wanting a stadium on the east side of W220, no, I hardly want that and have never offered it. In a city with extremely limited space, there is no reason to build a second stadium in such close proximity to one that is used only 5 times a year – that is a shortsighted, ignorant, and highly selfish solution. With suggestions like that, and ignoring the zoning facts that dispelled your original argument (you started by citing Zoning as the rule of law and then changed your tune to now describing from a personal perspective of a hardship on the community) you’re doing a fantastic job on your own with labeling yourself as preaching NIMBY….

    • Franman

      ding ding ding!

  • Smith

    Desperate attempt by MLS to steal headline from the Cosmos getting interest in Coney Island.

    Does NYCFC really hate itself that much?

    • Larry’s A Simpleton

      trust me smitty old boy, like all of new york city, mls does’t give a **** about the f.cosmos!

      • Smith

        Trust me, Disco Dan Doesn’t like any non MLS soccer being noticed

        If two kids are playing in the park he steals their ball

  • Uptown

    There is a potential conflict of interest as professional soccer troll and attorney of the Councilman is a Borough Boy and has created press statements in the past. The attorney is very close to the Councilman and has also been active in voicing support for the Cosmos stadium in Belmont. If NYCFC builds a NYC stadium, the Cosmos stadium is in danger. Or even the new one in Coney Island. Councilman, if you are influenced by a man rather than your constituents, then it’s a sad day for NYC politics.

    • Jay

      All the councilman said was that any team wanting to build a stadium should talk to the community first, which apparently they have not done…

    • Hi Philip Camp! Snake any more charities lately? And no, this isn’t my doing. Ydanis Rodriguez is just an accomplished member of his community who works day and night serving it as a teacher, as an activist, and as a city council member. You, on the other hand, are a little punk who steals and destroys things when you’re not the center of attention. If you gave a **** about your Inwood community, you would know how nobody thinks this is a good idea. Keep trying, and failing, brother.

      • Uptown

        Borough Boy and attorney Leo Glickman who has made his distaste for NYCFC public, did you talk to Ydanis Rodriguez about NYCFC stadium? Does it reflect your old views on redeveloping areas of Inwood for a stadium like Sherman Creek, if I remember correctly? Or does it change since it’s NYCFC and not the NY Cosmos?

        I’ll try to maintain some level of class and not engage in comment board wars.

      • Chris Ancilotti

        Wow, man. You sound like a complete *******. You don’t know this guy, to call him a “punk who steals” is beyond fucked up. And just because you think this is a bad idea doesn’t mean everyone does. I live in the area and I’d love this to happen. Ydanis Rodriguez isn’t the word of god in northern Manhattan. He’s just pissed because he didn’t get consulted or bribed. CFG and the Yankees probably know enough to do what they must. They probably don’t need to consult this joker when they aren’t building anything new. The size is already a sports complex. Adding a new tenant and reconstructing some things don’t need to go through every person in the neighborhood.

        • slowleftarm

          Leo is an angry man who ignores rational argument in favor of ad hominem attacks. This tactic is especially silly because he doesn’t know anyone who posts on here. That’s why he proudly proclaims that he posts under his real name and is therefore a profile in courage. In reality, he’s just trying to drum up business for his law firm which is why his name links to his firm’s website. If you need a lawyer to go into court and insult the other side without any legal argument, he’s your man.

  • slowleftarm

    Maybe the Cosmos should build a stadium there. The area should have no problem accommodating the number of fans that show up to their games.

    • I was thinking this exactly.

    • Smith

      You are obsessed. You need help. I urge you to seek out a mental health professional.

      • Resguard

        Agreed you need help slowleftarm, maybe a therapy can help, its worth a shot.

  • Manny

    The New York Cosmos rule.

    Like Smith said, this was a desparate attempt to steal New York Cosmos’ headline. But that’s quite alright. Nothing seems to be going right for ManCity USA.

    • jspech

      Well said! World domination on hold.

  • OpenCupFan

    Green side!

    World wide!

    Club America just scored. MLS should have given them more time off, despicable show of competitiveness. Really just sad.

  • Chepe pedos

    Hahaha Manchester city USA , wanting headlines ….

  • Marc

    Even a cursory look at the infrastructure in northern Manhattan would indicate that this is the worst idea to come down the pike in a long time. This is a very politically active community. Irrespective of the Councilman’s position, talk to some of the people who have tried to open ‘clubs’ or get a liquor license in the neighborhood. People here will fight this tooth and nail and they are very good at what they do.

    • Ali is my man

      Ever heard of the Metro North?

      • iSkyscraper

        Metro North, A, 1 – sure, maybe half the fans will take transit. Many people think that most fans at Yankees and Mets games take transit but the numbers are around 40-50%. Even if an astonishing 75% took transit, that would leave about 5,000 cars and taxis circling around northern Inwood’s tiny streets and stop signs.

        • Ali is my man

          The Yankee Stadium stats are not really relevant. It pulls in fans from all over the tri-state to watch him a world class sports team, including hedge fund managers from CT who can pay $40 for parking.

          Plus I’ve got an idea, why not park 2 stops away, and subway to the game? Works a treat at RB Arena.

    • iSkyscraper

      You are correct, but just to clarify the locals are active not just because they are politically involved but because they are owners. Most of Inwood rents, but nearly every building near the stadium is a co-op or house filled with longtime residents who are deeply invested in what goes down in their area (this part of Inwood is closer in feel to a small town than anonymous Manhattan). They have seen what happened to the southern part of Inwood when illegal nightclubs and destructive crowds came their way, and will resist an MLS version of the same here.

      • Ali is my man

        More specifically, it is 75% Dominican and Puerto Rican who are about the only Latin communities who don’t follow soccer. Not that the Brazilians in the Ironbound district ever watched the Red Bulls…..

  • Ali is my man

    Inwood could use an update and some investment. I have an idea – let’s replace an old sports stadium which is largely unused by the local community and bring in a world class facility, next to public transportation, which will attract thousands of people every 2 weeks who will spend lots of money in and around the neighborhood, which looks like some crap town you might find somewhere in Central America.

    Seems like you can’t get anything done in New York anymore. This is why people want leave, and companies don’t invest in infrastructure, jobs, etc. unless there are huge corporate interests at stake (read lobbyists at banks, real estate moguls).

    If this fails, they might as well lock down Yonkers Raceway and rename to Westchester Utd.

    • yakka yak

      “a world class facility, next to public transportation, which will attract thousands of people every 2 weeks who will spend lots of money in and around the neighborhood, which looks like some crap town you might find somewhere in Central America.”

      Your comment only indicates that you are ignorant about this particular area of Inwood.

      Look at it on Google maps street view and from the air. Lots of coops, condos and beautiful, well kept pre-war rental buildings, lots of park land and some of the shortest streets in the city. This is not a third world area by any stretch of imaginative opinion.

      • Ali is my man

        Come on it’s a nice location but it is your typical poor, working class Hispanic neighborhood found in northern Manhattan and the Bronx. This sort of development can only be a boon to the community.

        In other countries, stadiums are built in the HEART of communities. Go to any football ground in England and you will see this. And no, they don’t have parking either.

    • iSkyscraper

      Walk the blocks near the stadium. They are at their most gorgeous at this time of year as the cherry trees bloom and the well-tended gardens explode in color.

      Your statement makes sense if the stadium is placed east of Broadway, on top of the subway yards or surface lots that are right next to the 1 train, zoned industrial or commercial, have broad streets and no residents.

    • Marc

      Hey there sport….if you had spent any time investigating the reality surrounding the “…old sports stadium largely unused by the local community…” you would discover that Colombia University has by and large been a poor neighbor. The community has very limited access to the grounds. The implication that there is this vast, unused nirvana of sport heaven up here is misguided. Why don’t you take the 1 or the A here. Oh, and MetroNorth? It’s on the other side of the Broadway Bridge, in the Marble Hill section of the Bronx. You have to walk across a bridge that carries a ton of traffic with a very small pedestrian pathway…now there’s a recipe for success. Perhaps I sound a bit snarky but my point is before you promote something you should spend more time looking into the facts and less time speculating.

      • Ali is my man

        If you re-read this you will realize that I said that the community currently does NOT get to use the stadium/sports facilities. I realize the MNR stop is on the other side, I pass it every day on the train.

  • Willy wonka

    Once nycfc gets their stadium,they will be the envy of the the league.
    I see LA2 and nycfc having the best looking stadium in the league and that’s if Miami doesn’t get their water front stadium.
    Other teams that might end up with flashy stadiums in the future are sounders, whitecaps, dc united, and even galaxy if they remodel or move.
    At the end of the day nycfc needs time and the more comments I read, I see a bigger rivalry between nycfc vs cosmos than red bull vs nycfc.

  • Niche Chavez

    Why wouldn’t these councilman want NYCFC?

    They are wonderful and Jason Kreis is just dreamy!

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