Since the league held it’s town hall/pep rally event this past December, their quiet push for a Flushing Meadows based stadium has moved along at a snails pace. EoS certainly helped stir the NY2 conversation last week revealing stadium renderings for the proposed park project. The story went viral and was picked up by major news publications in the area.
Major League Soccer responded by downplaying the images, claiming they “do not represent what the stadium will look like,” and going so far as to call the renditions “concept drawings.” This statement comes despite the fact that SHoP Architect’s own Gregg Pasquarelli went into painstaking detail about the renderings themselves, claiming the “new stadium should be announced in the next couple of months.”
The controversy bled into MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s State of the League address, where he reemphasized his commitment to the project while warning the league’s patience does have a breaking point.
“If we’re not successful we’ll throw our hands up,” Garber said. “We’d take a step back and see if there’s another market … I don’t want to put a year limit on it but if it’s not making progress, the time will come. There’s a lot of activity in other markets.”
Garber’s message made it’s way back to the Mayor’s office. Capital New York caught up with Mayor Bloomberg and asked him about his plans for the stadium project.
“My hope is we get it done,” he told the publication. “It would be wonderful for New York City. There’s an enormous number of soccer fans in this city. They would love it. The proposal is to build it on one part of Flushing Meadow Park which isn’t really used very much and isn’t in good shape. And it’s another use for parkland that I think is appropriate. And we can find some other space, we think, and do some other things. But a venue that size would be absolutely great for New York City and hopefully it’ll get done.”
The political capital is there for MLS to exploit, but using that currency to push the project towards approval has proven to be a dragging affair.
Here are some more notes on the MLS to Queens project:
- MLS TOPS NYC LOBBYIST LIST FOR 2012
How bad does MLS want their Queens Stadium? Their political investment says it all.
The league kicked off their efforts to land a home in Flushing late last year but have already accrued $1.7 million in costs associated to their political efforts. According to the Daily News, that puts them at the very top of the City’s lobbyists list for 2012, outspending the second firm on the list, Albee Development LLC, by over half a million dollars.
“The majority of this money went to HR&A advisors, the real estate advisors dealing with every technical aspect of developing the stadium including dealing with architects, engineers and financials,” MLS Spokeswoman Rita Heller told the News. “They are not lobbyists, but out of an abundance of caution, they registered because they are occasionally in meetings where lobbying takes place. Similarly, Fried Frank is our real estate lawyers, who registered for the same reason.”
- LOCAL BUSINESSES, UNIONS SUPPORTING MLS INITIATIVE
While MLS continues to seek political capital to push through their stadium desires, a local task force has begun gathering signatures of support from local businesses. Last month, the league touted 1000 signatures from individual businesses collected mostly from the Flushing, East Elmhurst and Corona areas. Last week, an additional 125 business signed up to the cause according to the MLS to Queens twitter account.
This local support buoys gains already made by the league which includes major labor support from 32BJ, the New York Hotel & Motel Workers’ Union and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.
All three unions represent over 200,000 members in the five boroughs.
- PARK UPKEEP TAKES A CENTRAL ROLE
While Major League Soccer and the U.S. Tennis Association vie for park space, local politicians are bringing focus to Flushing Meadows deplorable conditions
The Queens park is larger than Central Park but is severely understaffed and under budgeted by comparison. Most of that has to do with the hefty endowment Central Park receives from private citizens that have thrown upwards of $100 million to it’s upkeep. Flushing has no such resource and the local community no such influx of philanthropic funds. The other part of that is city funding itself.
While MLS includes park improvements in their plan, local opposition to the plan suggest that should be the City’s role regardless of the planned Stadium initiative.
Local Assemblywoman Julissa Ferrera and others have hedged there support of the project, in part, on a long term plan to properly restore the park.