Three Years On, Cosmos Remain Confident in Stadium Proposal

IMAGE, COSMOSSTADIUM.COM

by JAKE NUTTING

This April, the New York Cosmos will be starting their fourth season in the NASL on the campus of Hofstra University at Shuart Stadium.

But four years ago, they thought they would be in a very different place.

At this very moment, the Cosmos hoped to have had their own brand new 25,000 seat stadium complete and ready for a ribbon cutting ceremony. That was the idea back in the winter of 2012, when the Cosmos revealed their bid to develop an underutilized parcel of land at Belmont Park.

Three years later, that has yet to materialize.

That lost time waiting in limbo is something Cosmos COO Erik Stover acknowledges has had a negative impact on the club — but recent news has buoyed the club’s hopes of an imminent decision.

“For our growth as a club, forget about the real cost of carrying this over the past three years, the opportunity lost has been big,” said Stover at Wednesday’s kit unveiling. “Trying to grow our fan base, being unable to answer our fans with something other than ‘I don’t know, we’ll see.’ That’s a hard position to be in, and there’s real dollars associated with that. We could be moving [into a stadium] now and we’d be telling a very different story.”

The good news is that the team’s state of limbo may soon be over. A new line of open dialogue with the Empire State Development Corp. over the past five months has rejuvenated hope that a final decision –one way or another — could come down soon.

After resubmitting their proposal late last year and responding to inquires based on that resubmission, Stover has faith that a winning bid will be chosen soon.

“We’ve gotten to a place where we completely understand each other,” Stover said of the Cosmos relationship with ESD. “They understand what we’re offering and at this point we’re waiting for them to come back to us. What the trigger is, I don’t know. I probably shouldn’t speculate, but they have made it clear in this four or five month process that they are going to make a decision one way or the other.”

Communication may be open between the two sides now, but that doesn’t mean the Cosmos have gotten any indication of where they stack up against the other bidders.

“I hear rumors, but I haven’t heard anything from ESD that they’ve narrowed the field down from four to two or anything like that. Nothing like that,” Stover offered. “You hear rumors but the number of rumors I’ve heard about this thing the last three years could fill a book.”

With the sudden reigniting of interest from the state capital, Stover remains steadfast that the uniqueness of the Cosmos proposal places it at the head of the pack.

“No one has ever done what we proposed to do, to my knowledge, in the United States. We’re going to pay for all of it. No taxpayer money. We don’t need any infrastructure improvements. The infrastructure exists. We’re gonna build it all, and it’s not only a stadium or arena. It’s a 365 days out of the year entertainment destination and one that will work with the race track.”

Some opposition has spoken out on the Cosmos proposal in the past, but that’s par for the course in Stover’s eyes and the overwhelming support from local residents, politicians and unions far outweighs the critics.

“Going back a year and a half, maybe two years, we did a poll of people that live within five miles the proposed facility, and almost 80 percent when our project was defined for them were in favor. Which is unheard of for a development of any kind,” he asserted. “Some people are ‘Not in my Backyard People’ but when we said no taxpayer money, over 2,000 jobs, it’s going to create over 500 union jobs, it’s going to be 365 day a year destination, it’s just not going to be a stadium, everybody said of course.”

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  • MTF

    Yawn.

  • Pele

    He must know something or have
    very good inside information. Let’s be honest, if cosmos get their stadium before nycfc, Would that mean NYC would pay rent at cosmos stadium? And play there
    Whatever happens,hopefully cosmos have a B plan, if not they are doomed and dead, but if they do get their stadium, garber will probably make red bull rebrand and add more pressure to NYC stadium plans.
    What happen first?
    Red bull rebrand
    Nycfc buy land for their stadium
    Cosmos win the bid

    • Ty/s

      It’s really not a bad area IMO; although I’m biased i grew up around there. The other proposals have legal hurdles and also the residents are against most all the other proposals. It’s not the “JUST” the COSMOS that will determine the fate of this. It’s other events that will be in the stadium. USMNT and EPL wanting games in the US played in EST.

    • MTF

      You’ve said more than once, “Garber will probably make Red Bull rebrand.” Stop it. Please. He can’t MAKE them rebrand. They’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars. They are an owner of an MLS franchise. As long as they follow the rules Garber can’t compel them or NYCFC to do anything. Perhaps Garber can find an owner willing to purchasing the team from the Red Bulls for a substantial profit, but that’s all. Can MLB make the Steinbrenners rebrand the Yankees? The NFL can’t even make the Washington Redskins rebrand. I place the odds of NYCFC paying rent to the Cosmos at 0%,

      • Pele

        You can’t compared NFL to MLS. NFL has years of existence and team owners don’t want to lose money in a rebrand.
        About the rebrand, we all know it’s a possibility but it would make red bull take a pay cut in the marketing area and they don’t want that.
        Red bull would rather sell than rebrand, we all know why and I wouldn’t be surprised if NYC pay rent at cosmos stadium, it’s a no brainier but would garber let that happen and cosmos might give them a discount on purpose to gain more attention and fans.

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  • Omar

    100% funded by the cosmos, seems like a no brainer.
    At worst an eyesore is turned into a multi purpose development.
    Looking forward to what this could be if it is approved.

    • MTF

      Except that they are competing with other bids. Regardless of private funding, they are proposing to the state to build a 25,000 seat stadium for a minor league team that draws an average attendance under 4,000. Many politicians won’t take that risk of being saddled with a giant White Elephant. Charles Wang original redevelopment plans for Nassau Coliseum were to be privately financed and the Town of Hempstead thwarted them. The Coliseum will now sit idle for a few years at taxpayers’ expense. Now if NYCFC was proposing the state would be all over it. They’ve already shown by their attendance that they would be a good anchor tenant, plus they have the New York Yankees involved. I seriously doubt that the Cosmos will win this bid, and then they’re up a creek.

      • Ty/s

        Nassau county and the State of New York are different number 1. Second the coliseum is being renovated and The Islanders will be playing games there. Third NYCFC plays in Yankee stadium that’s the draw not City Football Group. What are NYCFC fans going to all of sudden hop on the Cross Island Pkwy? NYCFC are a novelty and the flair will soon wear off. Lastly, This site fell in The Cosmos lap. This land was being pushed for development since at least 2004 not 2013 contrary to what people may think. Casinos have legal hurdles against them, politicians against them,unions against them and residents against them. It’s zoned for sports. I understand Stover’s confidence because it is a no-brainer. Why would CFG shell out for a stadium when 30,000 show up regardless? They will continue to take their fans money as will the Yankees.

        • MTF

          You missed my point. It wasn’t that NYCFC would want the Belmont site, it was that the state would rather do business with a real, professional, first division organization with a proven fan base. If you think a lot of politicians want to put their necks on the line approving a stadium 6x larger than the anchor tenant’s (a minor league team) current attendance, you’re crazy. I don’t care how many other events you schedule. You’re right. The RFP fell in the Cosmos’ lap so more power to them in submitting a bid; I just seriously doubt it’s the no brainer you and Stover think it is.

          Who says the Isles will be playing games at a renovated Coliseum, aside from the already committed six or so preseason games? Unless or until they and Barclays terminate their contract, they’re in Brooklyn. And if you think Gary Bettman will let them move back to Nassau with the way he feels about the local politicians and their mismanagement, you’re uninformed.

      • Pele

        If cosmos win the bid, they wil host all kind of events. Not only that, but lure NYC into their stadium until NYC get their own stadium.
        Let’s be honest, nycfc won’t get a stadium ready till 2020.
        For nycfc it’s only queens or Brooklyn for stadium land and if they want a miracle, it will take $$$$$$$$$
        I know this might sound crazy but if cosmos get their stadium, is nycfc desperate enough to buy red bull arena for them and make red bull a tenant at red bull arena.

        • Ty/s

          2020? Are you serious? More like 2031 earliest. City Football Group will find out the hard way

        • slowleftarm

          “I know this might sound crazy but if cosmos get their stadium, is nycfc desperate enough to buy red bull arena for them and make red bull a tenant at red bull arena.”

          So Cosmos will get their stadium, a a result of which NYCFC will buy RBA for Cosmos, making RBNY the tenant in RBA? Well you’re right about one thing – you do sound crazy.

          Will this be before or after Garber somehow forces RBNY to “rebrand?”

  • Joey

    I thought I read a few articles stating the Cosmos would also invest in the transit system to accommodate the influx of visitors to the site, but this article states there are no plans to invest in infrastructure. Maybe a minor point that was lost in his statement, but I thought that was an important selling point that he isn’t mentioning here.