Op Ed: Soccer stadium would be a major league score

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Assemblymember Francisco Moya
Assemblymember Francisco Moya

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER FRANCISCO MOYA

With Major League Soccer (MLS) looking to expand in New York City and a growing population addicted to the world’s game, the time has come for a dedicated soccer stadium within the city. And there is no better place for it than in the park where my father taught me to play soccer as a young boy: Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Currently, the closest MLS team is in New Jersey. For the last few years, MLS leadership has shown an interest in an expansion team within New York.

But the big question remains: Where will this future team play? In recent weeks, MLS has made clear its interest in building a soccer specific stadium, built with private dollars, in Queens.

A soccer-only facility in Queens is the perfect location for many reasons. Most important of all, the fans are here. As the son of immigrants from Ecuador and a lifelong soccer fan, I know first-hand how passionate Queens residents are about soccer. In cities with successful professional soccer franchises, new immigrant communities form the backbone of the fan base, including D.C. United and the Los Angeles Galaxy. The same would surely happen in Queens. Finally, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a prime location—within easy reach of the entire city by public transportation and Long Island and home to the busiest international airport in North America.

A dedicated soccer stadium would also benefit the people of Queens, both financially and culturally.

For starters, building a world-class soccer arena in Queens would bring between 2,000 and 2,200 good-paying construction jobs, with tens of millions infused into the local economy. Going forward, Major League Soccer matches, international exhibition games and other events would bring needed dollars and 300 full time and 900 part time permanent jobs to the borough. MLS reported that a similar soccer-only stadium in Kansas City will have a $500 million annual economic impact.

Soccer would also have indirect and profound benefits for the people of Queens. Consider the increased emphasis on healthy alternatives for children and the improved focus on after school recreational opportunities. And a pro team would bring world-class soccer players right to our neighborhoods, giving the next generation of children a sense of hope and instill the confidence needed for our kids to be successful.

As the momentum behind Major League Soccer in New York City continues to grow, it is time to act. The people of Queens are ready, willing and able to support a team. It begins with a dedicated soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.