Stover: Staying In Shuart “Unlikely,” “Not Ideal Venue”

image, dave martinez, empire of soccer

by JAKE NUTTING

The relationship between the New York Cosmos and Hofstra University has never been great, but after four years, it looks as if both sides could finally be ready to move on from one another entirely.

“We’re looking very hard at our options,” Cosmos COO Erik Stover told Cosmos Country Podcast. “I don’t have any specifics at this point. It’s too early to narrow the field based on rental discussions and negotiations that would have to come on, but staying at Hofstra at this point would be unlikely.”

The University has denied the team the ability to host any MLS teams in the U.S. Open Cup at Shuart Stadium due to what Stover labeled “criminal fan behavior” during last year’s match with New York City FC, endangering the team’s chances of hosting matches past their Round of 16 match against the New England Revolution.

“I understand Hofstra’s point of view,” Stover said. “There were a few altercations and just some general bad behavior, criminal activity, stealing things for an example. Some people think that stuff’s funny or a part of the game, but personally I don’t. I think there’s no place for assaulting people or stealing people’s stuff.”

The public only found out about the edict from the university last week, but Cosmos COO Erik Stover told Cosmos Country Podcast in an interview this week that Hofstra informed them of the decision last year and the front office worked for months to change their minds.

“To the point for Hofstra, it’s a college campus,” Stover elaborated. “When there are crimes committed on the campus, it’s bad for the university. They were adamant after the game last year that they were not going to allow any more MLS teams to play there against us in Open Cup. I spent the better part of the year trying to convince people that there were security measure that we could implement to basically make it impossible for those incidents to occur again. But they stuck to their convictions and we’re a tenant so we have to respect that.”

The latest development is a severe handicap to the Cosmos ability to generate revenue in high-profile matchups with MLS competition, but it’s only one of a handful of reasons why Shuart Stadium is becoming increasingly undesirable to the NASL side.

“As far as next year is concerned, I think we’ve seen over the years, and this not a revelation to you guys or to me, this is not the ideal venue for us,” the Cosmos executive admitted. “It’s hurt us in many ways — scheduling, just accessibility for people to get there, the general professionalism, that feeling of a professional venue is lacking. So we’ve known that, we’ve known that for a long time. Unfortunately with the delay in our stadium plan, we never expected to be in this facility four years. I guess it was always possible but certainly there was no talking about a fifth year.”

The Cosmos may finally be ready to pull the plug on their stint at Shuart, but they haven’t come close to settling on a new temporary venue. As evidenced by the team being forced to host its Open Cup matches in the tine Belson Stadium this year, finding a venue that meets the necessary standards is easier said than done in New York.

When Stover made it clear the team was seriously exploring alternatives to Hofstra back in April, he indicated that Mitchel Field  and Coffey Field were both on the list of possible new homes. Both would require an implementation of the Nexxfield turf system being utilized by expansion side Rayo OKC.

Stover believes finding the best possible venue is paramount for the club, as it has been hindered by the delayed bidding process for the Belmont site. Concerns over uprooting from their temporary home without knowing when or if they’d be able to build their stadium was a major factor in the team remaining at Hofstra this year.

“The delay on the stadium hurts. A stadium or arena for any team in any sports is a key economic driver for the organization,” Stover said. “So to be set back three years on that plan hurts. There’s no denying that. But I also think we can sort of reshuffle the deck, reset it. If we find the right venue to move to out of Hofstra, I think we’re not necessarily going to lose too much time. Of course you don’t want to rush into a decision that’s not the right decision.”

Listen to Stover’s full interview with Cosmos Country Podcast below.

  • Leo Glickman

    This really, really sucks.

    • Kevin

      This doesn’t suck Leo. All of us have complained for 4 years that Hofstra was a miserable place.We need to get out. This organization has become too complacent on sitting on their heels in Hofstra while the state makes them look foolish. Maybe they hand is now being forced where there actually has to be a plan B

      • DanGerman

        Bingo, Kevin! Everyone knew that Hofstra was a drag on the team, hell last year Stover was talking like they weren’t leaving anytime soon and Hofstra was going to treat the team better this year. Now they’re no longer good?! The team should have had a plan after the 2nd year of not hearing anything, they should have played somewhere else this season.

  • Johnny

    It would be a shame if any unfortunate vandalism occurred at Yankee stadium

  • slowleftarm

    To be fair, it’s only an ideal for venue for a college lacrosse team. Assuming that team draws small crowds by college lacrosse standards.

    • Smurf040

      I rather watch a good soccer team play in a lacrosse field than a terrible one getting their asses handed a “touchdown” in a baseball field! Dude, your line is so old and boring get new material! 7-0! Worry about your crapppy team, don’t worry about our NASL champs!

  • Not Niko Kranjcar

    Icahn Icahn Icahn ! It’s staring them right in the face

    • MTF

      Icahn seats 5,000. I know they draw less than that now, but for the NASL’s marquee team to settle for that would be an admission of defeat.

  • John

    Hofsra has wanted the Cosmos to leave for 2 years its not the right fit for the university…. The cosmos are going to have a very difficult time finding a good location in the NYC area might have to go to NJ or CT to find a good place to play….

    They also need to build a permanent home, they will never get the Belmont land so find land and build a stadium. Don’t count on the state do it yourself.

    • ecky

      why don’t the cosmos move to a local high school field, they only get enough fans to fill that size venue anyhow

  • The rock

    The only way cosmos get their new shiny stadium is if they get nycfc someway somehow to pay rent n play there or even give them a discount on rent.
    Would garber let that happen, maybe but cosmos n mls don’t look eye to eye.
    If red bull daddy starts given full support and money to red bull Germany then garber should do something red bull ny and cosmos should take advantage of the chance.
    For now cosmos is dying again and the only way cosmos will come back to life is they find a proper stadium or get new owners.

    • Smith

      You don’t really care for conjugation, do you?

    • MTF

      You post this same stupid post everyday! NYCFC will not be renting from the Cosmos and the Red Bulls are one of the best performing teams in MLS the past three years. Red Bull isn’t selling. Cosmos aren’t buying Red Bull. Cosmos won’t be in MLS. Spare us your nonsense.

      • Smith

        More importantly, he posts it in a manner that is grammatically horrible.

  • rebel fighter

    Knock down the Izod Center Mr. Stover and build your stadium. A lot of development going on in that area.

    • Daddy yankee

      Is that possible? But they would be entering red bull soda territory and if u ask me, if cosmos can’t get their stadium then what’s next.
      A. Cosmos get new ownership
      B. Cosmos remodel Icahn
      C. Cosmos join USL
      D. Cosmos die in NASL

      • rebel fighter

        I believe so. If anything the soda company will lose fan support. RB fans were once Metro Star Fans, Metro Star fans were once Cosmos fans. Let’s go full circle. I don’t believe the current ownership does not have an alternative stadium site after 4 years. If so, really irresponsible. How nice would it be to have a 25k stadium next to Met Life for their home games. Those big friendly’s the Cosmos talk about could be played at Met Life

        • slowleftarm

          LOL….more delusion. A 25k stadium so 4k can rattle around in it? No one is going to watch minor league games in the swamps of the meadowlands. That’s why the Nets and Devils left. It’s a terrible location for anything. Sure, people will go there to watch Giants or Jets games a few times a year but soccer is not at that level of popularity in this country – yet.

          Cosmos biggest problem is that they made a fatal miscalculation – they thought MLS needed them when in fact the opposite is true. Now they’re paying the price for that error.

        • MTF

          The playing conditions at Hofstra are terrible and the location is hurting them, although it shouldn’t be. With the huge popularity of youth soccer on Long Island, and the success the Long Island Ducks have had, the Cosmos should have been a slam dunk. I think their pricing ($15, $25, $35!!) turns many away. I’ve taken my kids to a few matches and paid only slightly less than I would have to take them see the Red Bulls. It’s a huge turnoff to pay those prices for an inferior experience. If the Cosmos charged $15 for every seat, every game, they’d draw 6,000+ looking for affordable family entertainment. 25K is a non-starter, and moving to NJ or Connecticut will be a death knell. Despite having constructed a quality team, they are minor league and can’t escape it. Build a beautiful 12,000 seat soccer stadium with expansion capability. Try to get it in Brooklyn, near a subway line (any more room in Coney Island). They should embrace their minor league status and build from there. Be prepared to join USL if the NASL founders. It’s either something like this or they will fold.

          • MTF

            By inferior experience I mean sitting on metal bleachers, horrible bathrooms and concessions, terrible turf with lacrosse field lines…it’s definitely not worth paying $25 or $35 for.

            • slowleftarm

              Cosmos charge up to $35?! Seriously?! That’s flat out insane. You can get tickets for either of the MLS teams in this area for less than that.

              • MTF

                Actually, you can pay up to $95 to see the Cosmos at Hofstra! From their website:

                Ticket Information:
                Endline $15: Sections 9-12,13A-14A,15-17.

                Sideline $25: Sections 1-2,6-8,18-20,25-27.

                Center Circle $35: Sections 3,5,21-24.

                Premier $40: Sections 3P,4P,5P. These seats provide seat backs.

                Club $95: Section 4 Club. Club seating includes Parking ($10 value), Food, Alcohol, and Fountain Drinks as well as access to our private lounge. These seats provide seat backs. For more information on Club seating Click here.

                The Five Points $15: Sections 13-14. Click here for further information about our Supporters.

                • slowleftarm

                  Wow, you have to spend $40 just to have seat backs! Makes me appreciate RBA even more.