Talks of a potential soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park are closing toward a final deal, the New York Post reported, although several state and city officials would not confirm plans were nearing completion.
The final plan, a state official told The Post, would be a $300 million stadium that holds 25,000 fans. It would be completely funded by Major League Soccer (MLS) and could break ground early next year. The city would give up nine acres of the massive park for the stadium, which would be returned by the state for development elsewhere, it was reported.
MLS, however, would still have to meet with transit, city and state officials, it was reported.
News broke in late June that MLS was talking to officials for a stadium in the park. The stadium would also lead to the 20th MLS team, and the New York area’s second, after the Red Bulls, who play in Harrison, N.J.
Officials would not confirm that a deal was close, but said talks so far had been productive.
“We’ve been in close contact with MLS, we’ve met with them several times, but there are several projects going on right now in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and we have to look at them as a whole,” said Tarik Coles, a spokesperson for Councilmember Julissa Ferreras.
State Senator Jose Peralta said he was glad to hear that general progress toward the potential stadium was moving forward, and that, if given the green light, the stadium can complement other development in the area.
“It’s encouraging to hear the progress that is being made on an economic development project that will create badly needed construction and permanent jobs,” Peralta said. “With a centrally located soccer stadium that has Citi Field and the United States Tennis Center as neighbors, and an extensive transportation infrastructure servicing the area, there is the potential to create a world-class sports and entertainment destination in north central Queens that is second to none.”
Should the plan go through, it would be the second major New York soccer addition this year. The New York Cosmos were incorporated into the North American Soccer League in July, re-establishing the city’s original franchise that once had players like Brazilian superstar Pele.
Upon the Cosmos’ entrance into the league, an MLS spokesperson said the league was happy the storied franchise was coming back.
“We welcome the Cosmos’ entrance to the NASL,” she said in an email. “Having a vibrant second division is important to the overall growth and popularity of soccer in North America, and we are pleased to see the NASL add a new franchise.”
The team, the spokesperson added, could potentially play some part in creating a Queens-based MLS team.
“Major League Soccer remains committed to securing an expansion team in New York City,” she said. “The current focus is on exploring a stadium site, but we will continue discussions with several potential ownership groups, including the Cosmos, about the possibility of joining the efforts to bring a second MLS team to New York.”
The plan as a whole, however, does not sit well with all in the city. The New York City Park Advocates, which spoke out against some components of the U.S. Tennis Center renovations, said the city – more so the Bloomberg Administration – was giving up parkland for commercial use.
“The city treats parkland as a cheap date,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of Park Advocates. “They do whatever they want without any care, and it’s just sad.”
Acres of parks were being given up for commercial development, Croft said, and regular park users were feeling the brunt of it.