Cosmos’ COO Stover talks Belmont stadium, NYCFC, Hofstra and difficulties of building in NY


EOS sat down with New York Cosmos Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover to discuss the state of the team. We begin with a conversation on the team’s ongoing stadium bid, NYCFC, playing in Hofstra and the difficulty of building within New York City proper.


Looking from the outside, everything has been quiet regarding the New York Cosmos’ long-submitted Elmont stadium proposal.

Inside Elmont, it’s a different story.  Speculation continues to run wild with community groups and local leaders busy churning the rumor mill in hopes of swaying opinions.  Both stadium proponents and detractors have begun a whisper campaign with outlandish claims swearing that the bid is either a mere signature from being approved or that the RFP had been rejected by the State entirely.

So which is it?

“It’s basically the same as it has been for a few months,” COO Erik Stover tells EOS. “We submitted a bid and are confident we put our best foot forward and right now, it’s up to the Empire State Development Corporation to make a decision.”

If that line sounds familiar, it should; the Cosmos have not strayed from it for the better part of a year.  The bid is now entering it’s 15th month of evaluation.  Initial inquiries from the ESD have been answered and the proposal has since been sitting stagnant in Albany, awaiting debate to open on its merits.

For fans of the team, and even for some within the organization, the delay is frustrating. For Stover, the wait is par for the course. The Cosmos COO has experience with the construction of sporting venues, helping usher in the existence of Red Bull Arena as the team’s President.

In today’s fast paced world, many have forgotten the struggles involved in building the Red Bulls home — even in a development town like Harrison. If people need a reminder of the struggle it takes to land a space in the five boroughs, just look at the efforts of New York City F.C.. They are in the nascent stages of that conversation and have already received blow back for a proposal once thought to be a shoo-in.

“It’s achievable,” Stover said about the idea of building within the five boroughs. “It will cost a lot of money for sure.

“For the other guys [NYCFC], it’s not easy,” he explains. “It’s not easy to [build] anything in New York, and a professional sports venue is probably the hardest. It’s a lighting rod and draws a lot of attention, whereas an office building or a residential high rise are actually easier to get through. It’s a daunting task for anyone.”

“It’s kind of why we like our site so much.”

The Cosmos proposal presents a lesser headache than avenues pursued by both Major League Soccer and, now, New York City F.C.. As an RFP, it is the State that is looking for a development partner, not an outside investor attempting to sell the community on a project. Further, the location allows the Cosmos to have a foothold in both New York City and the flourishing Long Island soccer market. While listed in Elmont, the Cosmos stadium would literally straddle the border of Nassau and Queens, with the home goal sitting firmly on City grounds.

“Hopefully [NYCFC] have a place and we all have a strong hold in our particular regions and we can all compete in the future,” Stover says. “For us, it’s always about competition. That’s why we find ourselves in the NASL. We think the competition, whether on the field or off, is what’s going to make the sport grow in this country.

“We are happy the Red Bulls are already here and the other team is coming in. We hopefully someday soon will meet them on the field and we can galvanize the New York/Metropolitan area to choose a side and choose their colors.

“It’ll have a long term effect for the growth of the sport,” he continues, “but on a day to day basis, we don’t worry about what they are doing. We have enough challenges to get ourselves where we want to go and, fingers crossed, hope we have the opportunity to play them one of these days.”

For now, the Cosmos look towards another year in Hofstra University. While a romantic nod to their past, that partnership brings with it some unique challenges. Anyone who has seen their Spring Championship schedule would acknowledge that as the team plays two Sunday matches, three Saturday fixtures and an odd-ball Monday night game to boot.

In half a season, Shuart Stadium has served the Cosmos well, but Stover knows that nothing would beat a proper home.

“It’s not easy,” Stover explains. “We are a tenant there. They have different priorities. They are not a privately run corporation trying to make money off of stadium rentals. Their first mission is the university and we understand that. Any team in this kind of situation is going to struggle to accomplish their commercial goals and it has reflected a little bit this year with how our schedule bounces around.

“They are a good partner of ours,” he acknowledges, “but we will only have good traction when we get into our stadium.”

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  • Kudos to Erik Stove for sitting down and talking to EOS. Like the article pointed out there has been a lot of speculation on both sides – its best to just let this all play out. Like the article also pointed out – Red Bull arena took a while too. I think because the whole Cosmos plan seems like a sweet deal, people are more eager to see an approval quicker. I still think it gets approved!

  • Wurzel

    That “stadium update” said nothing new at all.

    Oh, and *

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  • I believe this is a really easy decision for the ESDC, due to the factors presented. The location is ideal, the funding is completely private and the benefits to the region economically. Do I think the stadium is a bit much for an NASL team? Definitely, but its being completely funded, so it’s not a concern. Could the NASL go bust in a number of years and this stadium become useless? Possibly.
    I think the delay in reaching a decision may be due to a “wait and see” approach to see what happens with the NYCFC search for a site for their stadium. If a stadium in the Bronx is settled, I think this improves the chances of approval for Cosmos Stadium, but I don’t the ESDC would approve it if NYCFC settles on a stadium closers to the Elmont region. If anything, the Cosmos might want to reach out to the NYCFC and agree to share the stadium, which would improve the chances of it being approved.

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