City, MLS in talks to bring soccer to Queens

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Elected officials and soccer fans alike are hoping that they city does not pass on a soccer stadium in Queens.

The city has been in talks with Major League Soccer (MLS) to build a stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and bring what would be the league’s 20th team to Queens, a state official said. Currently, MLS runs a 19-team league across North America; 16 teams in the U.S. and three in Canada. The stadium would hold somewhere between 20,000 to 25,000 fans.

Assemblymember Francisco Moya has been advocating for the stadium. A dedicated soccer fan since childhood, Moya said a stadium in the borough’s largest park would be an economic and cultural boon to the area.

Citing accessibility to mass transit and the soccer culture in the surrounding neighborhoods, Moya said the stadium would be an economic boost for the borough, as well as an affordable venue for soccer fans — the cheapest ticket for a game, he said, would only be about $20.

The stadium would be privately financed and not affect taxpayers, Moya said. It would be built over the defunct pools in the park, he said, with MLS revamping the park’s soccer fields if the project goes through.

An MLS spokesperson said there were not any contingent plans for a soccer stadium and gave the following statement:

“Major League Soccer remains committed to securing a 20th team for the league that would be located in New York City. We are thrilled about the prospect of being in Queens and bringing the world’s sport to the world’s park,” the spokesperson said in an email. “We are in exploratory discussions with the city and with Queens officials and look forward to working with the community to build a world class soccer facility for all to enjoy.”

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents some of the neighborhoods around the park, said she’s met with MLS and looks forward to working with the league. At the same time, she said it was important potential projects also take civic needs into consideration.

“I have a series of meetings scheduled with Major League Soccer. I am excited about this opportunity,” she said. “However, it is important to ensure that any plan is fair and considers the needs and concerns of the community.”

The Wall Street Journal — when it first broke the news that plans for a stadium were in talks — noted the arena could become a competitor to Citi Field just across the park.

The ballpark hosted a soccer match between Ecuador and Greece last year; Moya, who is of Ecuadorian descent, was made an honorary captain for the South American country’s team.

And though he said he would fully support a Queens team, he said his allegiance would always remain with his beloved Barcelona, a Spanish team with a worldwide following.