Tag Archives: MLS

Former international soccer player to host meet and greet at Queens Center


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Courtesy Verizon Wireless

With the FIFA World Cup about only a month away, soccer fans will be able to get a taste of the sport at Queens Center this weekend.

In preparation for the big games being held from June 12 to July 13 in Brazil, Verizon is hosting five shopping mall “Estadio Verizon” (Verizon Stadium) events for fans. The events will feature interactive soccer games, a customized stadium scoreboard, trivia games and a soccer-themed Plinko board to win prizes.

This Saturday, former Colombian national team captain and Major League Soccer player Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama will be at Queens Center doing a meet and greet with fans from 4 to 6 p.m.

Between noon and 6 p.m. this weekend, visitors at the Elmhurst mall will be able to learn about Verizon’s video offerings including its “La Connexion” and Spanish Language Packages that offer customized content for Hispanics and others who seek more Spanish-language programming.

Also, throughout the weekend and in honor of Mother’s Day, visitors at Queens Center will be able to make a free international call to their moms, using the latest Verizon Wireless mobile devices.

 

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Pols raise concerns over planned Cosmos soccer stadium near Queens border


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of the New York Cosmos

Some politicians feel the New York Cosmos need to do everything they can to win the community.

The soccer club, which restarted recently after not playing a game in nearly three decades, is planning to construct a 25,000 seat stadium in Elmont’s Belmont Park near the Queens and Nassau border. The team currently plays at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium in Long Island.

The project has come under direct fire by Carrié Solages, a legislator in Nassau County, while on the Queens side Councilmember Leroy Comrie has brought up potential community concerns, such as increased traffic, noise and lights.

“It’s a residential community and you can understand that people want to keep it that way,” Comrie said.

The team has started to give back to the community through various partnerships, including the American Cancer Society, Long Island City YMCA and New York Hospital Queens.

The Cosmos began hosting a series of “Back to School” soccer clinics around New York for children between the ages of seven and 14. There will be four clinics around the city and Long Island this month. Cosmos players and coaches will interact directly with children at the clinics to teach them the fundamentals.

“As a native New Yorker, being able to play for the Cosmos is a dream come true, and it’s made even more special when we get to go into the community and work directly with the next generation of American soccer stars,” said Carlos Mendes, Cosmos defender and team captain.

Comrie is not against the stadium as he was with Major League Soccer (MLS) trying to put a similar-sized venue in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the New York City Football Club because that project called for taking land from the park. But he thinks Belmont could be a “suitable” location for a soccer stadium.

The councilmember will gauge concerns from the community through future meetings.

The Cosmos’ plan for the stadium is still in the early stages as they have only made a proposal for the land and early renderings. A team representative said the organization is willing to work with the community to address any future concerns that they may have.

“The New York Cosmos have a strong belief in social responsibility and the desire to make a positive impact,” a representative said. “We feel that we have an obligation to be a leader in the community and we’ve shown that through our actions.”

 

Additional reporting by Carlos Montanez 

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Renderings leaked of potential Manhattan soccer stadium at Pier 40


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via Google maps

Renderings of a possible stadium for the new Major League Soccer (MLS) team, New York City Football Club, made their way onto the Internet yesterday.

The renderings were made in 2012 by the organization, but it is not known who leaked them online.

“This rendering was a conceptual design that Major League Soccer produced when considering Pier 40 as a potential soccer stadium,” said Dan Courtemanche, MLS executive vice president of communications. “On a daily basis New York City FC is working on a long-term stadium solution.”

 

MLS has considered building a 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which was supported by a few politicians. However, recently that idea has seen numerous kickbacks.

About two weeks ago Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio show that Yankee Stadium will be the home for the New York City Football Club. This statement was later retracted.

The Flushing Meadows-Corona Park proposal has also drawn opposition from Councilmember Leroy Comrie, chair of the council’s Land Use Committee, and Senator Tony Avella, who suggested the stadium be built in the Rockaways.

“Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is used by residents from all across Queens, and this usage by Major League Soccer would negatively impact park life,” Comrie previously said to The Courier. “While there are many soccer fans here in Queens, there are more appropriate places to build this stadium.”

Avella recently penned a bill aimed at preventing proposals to change parkland use, which would require parkland taken for projects to be replaced with three times the space and within one mile of the project. If passed by the legislature after summer recess, it would lower the chances of getting the stadium in Queens.

The expansion team, which is jointly owned by English club Manchester City F.C. and the New York Yankees, will not begin play until 2015.

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MLS announces deal with Manchester City, Yankees for New York soccer team


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MLS

The announcement of a new team may be a major score for soccer officials, but it pushes back the goalposts for a new Queens stadium.

Manchester City Football Club and the Yankees are partnering up to establish the New York City Football Club (FC), officials announced today. It is Major League Soccer’s (MLS) 20th expansion team.

MLS and the partnership aim to have the squad up and running by the 2015 soccer season, The team will start by playing at a temporary venue. “This is a transformative moment for Major League Soccer and soccer in America as we welcome our 20th club called New York City Football Club,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber. “It provides us with a rivalry with the New York Red Bulls [...] rivalries drive the success in soccer around the world.”

In the partnership, England’s Manchester City FC will handle soccer operations while the Yankees will focus on establishing the team in New York.

The league spent nearly a year publicly lobbying for a 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Parkland advocates have actively opposed the effort.

While the league’s talks with the city have seen ups and downs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has remained confident New York and MLS will ink a deal before his final term ends in December.

Garber said it was too soon to discuss where New York City FC will play its first season. Yankees President Randy Levine said Yankee Stadium and Citi Field were possibilities. Both venues have hosted exposition soccer matches since each opened in 2009.

“We’re competitors with the Mets, but we’re also partners with them in Major League Baseball,” Levine said. “Citi Field could be as much of a temporary site as Yankee Stadium.”

Finding a long-term home is now up to the owners, Garber said, with MLS essentially taking a back seat in the process.

Ferran Soriano, CEO of Manchester City Football Club, said Flushing Meadows-Corona Park will still be explored as an option along with other spots in the city. He added that wherever developers go, they will actively seek community input.

“We’re well aware of the conversations with the stadium in Flushing Meadows,” Soriano said.

“The stadium has to be a success from the soccer perspective commercially” and from the community perspective, too, he added.

During the lobbying process, Garber and other MLS officials said Flushing Meadows was the ideal location for a soccer pitch. But some Queens residents have argued the league should leave the park alone and look elsewhere.

After Tuesday’s announcement, the Fairness Coalition of Queens issued a statement saying it was open to the team, but suggested using a spot that would not take away parkland.

“The proposal for a stadium inside the heart of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is deeply flawed and would irrevocably damage a vital community resource.”

Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said the new owners’ openness to finding a new site was a sign that a stadium in Flushing Meadows would not have worked.

“The plan to install that stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was dead on arrival,” he said.

“We’re very happy that they are now beginning to acknowledge that.”

He faulted both MLS and the mayor for their discussions to date.

“I think Major League Soccer was getting some mixed signals from the [Bloomberg] administration,” he said. “But the problem is, Major League Soccer should be ashamed of themselves, to begin with, that they should get away with this.”

 

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MLS commissioner talks deadline for Flushing Meadows soccer stadium


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MLS

While there’s no set deadline, Major League Soccer (MLS) Commissioner Don Garber said he hopes the top US soccer league will ink a deal with the city sometime this year for a 25,000 seat arena in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Garber, speaking at a Q&A with reporters after his opening season address, said he wasn’t putting a time period on when the league would exploring markets outside of New York, but if talks carried on for several years, the league would start looking elsewhere.

“If we’re not able to be successful,” he said, “we’ll throw our hands up and say time for shifting emphasis. I will say it will be far sooner than three years before we throw our hands up. We’ve been working on this for a couple of years; we’re hoping to be able to get something finalized this year. If we’re not able to do that, we’ll probably take a step back and figure out whether or not there’s another market we want to move in.”

During his remarks, however, Garber said MLS had strong talks with officials at the city and state level and is continuing to hammer out the details of the project, which he once projected to be up and running for the 2016 MLS season.

“Expansion, particularly here in New York City, remains a big priority for us,” he said. “We continue to work hard to have our twentieth team play here in New York, in a new stadium, hopefully in Flushing Meadows Corona park…we do remain in very productive discussions with the City of New York, with the State of New York, lots of local officials who are very, very engaged with, regarding that project. We still have a lot of work to do but we are making progress.”

The commissioner said in October that he hoped for an agreement with the city within a month, but nothing came of it. Since then, the league has held several meetings with the communities surrounding the park, including a Town Hall style meeting in December that was criticized for mostly having league supporters.

Opposition to the proposed project, which could take up to 13 acres of parkland away, has been harsh and growing in numbers by people who want to protect the park from privatization.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Overcast with rain showers. High of 46. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Thursday night: Overcast with a chance of rain. Low of 36. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Comedy Show Featuring Lisa Corrao

Middle-school-teacher-turned-comedian Lisa Corrao, who has recently participated in the Women in Comedy Festival, the Boston Comedy Festival, the She-Devil Comedy Competition and Comedy Central’s South Beach Comedy Festival, will headline a show at the Laughing Devil Comedy Club with NYC comics Gabe Pacheco, Lucas Connolly, Miguel Dalmau, Scott Sharp and special guest Gene Harding. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

MLS commissioner Don Garber sets time limit for deal to build soccer stadium in Queens, says league will explore other cities if necessary

Don Garber, commissioner of MLS, warned the city on Wednesday that his soccer league will look elsewhere to expand if it can’t cut a deal with officials for a new Corona Park stadium in a relatively short period. Read more: New York Daily News

Hurricane Sandy aid registration deadline extended

New Yorkers who were affected by Superstorm Sandy now have another 30 days to sign up to get help from FEMA. Read more: ABC New York

Rockaway organizations are calling for farmers markets following Superstorm Sandy

When Superstorm Sandy tore through Rockaway, shuttering grocery stores for months, many locals were left without many food options. Read more: New York Daily News

Kindergartener walks out of school, no one notices

Little Angelo says that no one said anything to him as he walked out of school. It’s very hard to say exactly how Angelo Geremia left his school all by himself Wednesday, but what we do know is that some time after 10:30 a.m. at P.S. 229, the 5-year-old kindergartener pushed open the big doors and walked outside. Read more: ABC New York

Benedict says goodbye to cardinals, promises obedience to successor 

Pope Benedict XVI promised his “unconditional reverence and obedience” to his successor in his final words to his cardinals Thursday, a poignant farewell before he becomes the first pope in 600 years to resign. Read more: CBS New York

U.S. Army says it faces “dire” financial situation as cuts loom

A senior military budget officer said on Wednesday that converging financial pressures could leave the U.S. Army with just $2 billion to spend on operations, maintenance and training this year after it has funded the war in Afghanistan and other security needs. Read more: Reuters

Queens soccer stadium plans pulled offline after leak


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of A Walk in the Park

The controversial Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park finally showed its face, but then went back into hiding.

According to the blog A Walk in the Park, fans and those opposed got their first glimpse of the proposed stadium on Tuesday, February 26. The renderings were leaked after a video was uploaded of a February 1 presentation at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, where Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP Architects paused his focus on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to give his students a view of what he called an unnamed project at an unknown location.

Hours after the images spread around the Internet, the video was pulled off the SB Nation “Nets Daily” blog, where it was first published. According to the blog, viewers got a taste of the exterior and interior of the stadium and an idea of just how large the structure will be.

The leaked images of the proposed stadium, say detractors, brought to reality some of the problems the project will bring to the community.

“This is a nightmare, now we know why MLS has been trying so hard to keep renderings of the stadium out of the public eye. This is massive. The stadium represents the equivalent of parking three enormous aircraft carriers in the middle of a public park,” said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates.

Yet, according to Major League Soccer, the drawings show nothing.

“These drawings do not represent what the stadium will look like,” MLS president Mark Abbott said in a statement. “In fact, we haven’t selected an architect yet and will not start the design process until we have an owner for the club. This was simply a concept drawing that was done only to help determine the potential height and footprint.”

Plans for the MLS stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park were announced in October and it is expected to seat 25,000 soccer fans and host 20 games a year.

-With additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen 

 

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State senator wants to landmark Flushing Meadows-Corona Park


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Landmark the park.

That’s what State Senator Tony Avella wants for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to block development in the area.

These include an entertainment center at Willets Point — an area that is technically parkland — along with expansions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and a proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium.

The projects are either inside or on the edge of the park, but only the proposed soccer arena would require replacement parkland to be installed somewhere relatively close to Flushing Meadows. Normal park users, however, will not get the same access to this new park, Avella said, and Flushing Meadows would become overcrowded.

“Normally when you have some alienation, [and] you have some land coming in, you have to replace parkland of equal acreage some place everyone can agree upon. You may actually replace the amount of acreage, but the number of people who use it would be significantly less.”

Landmarking includes a review of the park for its historical and cultural value. The independent commission will look at these and decide whether or not it goes to a full vote.

“We put together what I think are very significant reasons why it should be done,” said Avella. “The historic aspect of the park in terms of two Worlds Fairs, housing the United Nations for a period of time and the fact that it is the borough park.

All three projects require a vote from the City Council, and then approval from the state because green space will be lost. Avella said should the bill go to the state level — in order to approve any removed parkland — he would push his colleagues in the chamber to vote down the expansions.

Risa Heller, spokesperson for MLS, said the league wanted to help refurbish the park and have a long working relationship with the parks department.

“MLS is deeply committed the long term health and vibrancy of FMCP which is why we will make a significant investment in the park in addition to replacing community fields,” she said. “We plan to be a long term partner for the park and plan to do everything we can to ensure it meets the needs of the surrounding communities.”

Spokespersons for USTA and the Willets project were reached for comment, but were not able to respond by press time.

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Unions back Queens soccer stadium


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Major League Soccer

Kicking in their support for hundreds of potential jobs, several construction unions have backed the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

The Hotel Trades Council; the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York; and 32BJ SEIU all backed the project for its potential to give union workers jobs and provide nearly 1,000 full and part-time jobs after construction is completed. “

A Major League Soccer stadium in Queens will be good for the working men and women of New York City; it will create good jobs and enhance the park,” said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ. “We are committed to continuing to work with MLS and the community to make sure this is done in a way to benefit the area as a whole.”

The stadium building is expected to create more than 2,000 union construction according to MLS officials. Unions have already delivered messages of support to projects such as the development at neighboring Willets Point, which is expected to create an upwards of 12,000 union construction jobs.

“The economy in Queens is still hurting,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “The recession is still taking a toll on middle and lower income families, and it would be a shame for Queens to be shut out of such a tremendous opportunity for good jobs. That’s why we will fight to make sure this project is successful and benefits Queens’ working families.”

MLS spokesperson Risa Heller said the league was thrilled to garner union backing on the project. The League is committed to creating jobs, she said, both directly at the stadium and spurring economic growth around the park.

“We are thrilled to have the support of unions who represent hundreds of thousands of working men and women,” she said. “They understand, as we do, what an important economic engine this stadium will be. We look forward to working with them to make it a reality.” The stadium, and its economic promises, have been met with criticism from opponents to the project, however.

NYC Park Advocates president Geoffrey Croft, who’s opposed to the project, said the union backing was part of a “checklist” of gaining support for an unfair project. While he understood there’s a need for jobs in the city, Croft said jobs should be made for bettering the park, and not building in it.

“It’s really sad,” Croft said. “They’re following the standard playbook for supposed support for these projects.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Mostly cloudy. High of 34F with a windchill as low as 16. Winds from the East at 5 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Overcast with a chance of snow, then snow after midnight. Low of 30 with a windchill as low as 23. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 80%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Peking Operas 

Celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year with arias and episodes from two famous Peking Operas, Filial Visit of the Fourth Son and Henpecked King, presented by the New York Chinese Opera Society at the Flushing Libary . Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYC looking at 4-8 inches of snow, points north and east much more Friday

Forecasters say a nor’easter slated to hit Friday could dump large amounts of rain and snow across the Tri-State Area. Read more: CBS New York

No new date for NYC primaries after Albany lawmakers nix June, August proposals

Albany lawmakers are unable to agree on an earlier date for the New York City primaries, even after the city Board of Elections has sounded the alarm about the potential for chaos if the elections are held as scheduled in September. Read more: NBC New York

Man expected to plead guilty in alleged Federal Reserve bomb plot

A 21-year-old Bangladesh national is expected to appear in a federal court in Brooklyn Thursday to plead guilty to trying to blow up the Federal Reserve. Read more: NY1

NYC first to get realistic shooting simulation game for kids

A shooting simulation game that lets children pretend to have shootouts in an indoor fake village with a bank, offices and what appears to be a school has come to Queens and is raising concern among law enforcement authorities. Read more: NBC New York

Three unions back MLS soccer stadium project for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

A trio of unions is throwing their weight behind a contentious proposal to construct a soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the Daily News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News

Subway safety campaign features bloody MetroCards

Shocking MetroCards splattered with blood and the grim reaper are being handed out in an effort to get your attention. Read more: ABC New York

Brennan to face questions on interrogations, drones and leaks

President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan, is expected to face tough questioning about leaks of sensitive information and U.S. spy activities from waterboarding to the use of drones when he appears at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday. Read more: Reuters

 

Former Councilmember Sal Albanese kicks off mayoral campaign


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Albanese for Mayor 2013

Former Councilmember Sal Albanese, who recently announced he’s running for mayor as an independent Democrat, has high hopes for improving public safety and the city’s education system.

Albanese, who represented mostly Bay Ridge for 14 years, said he was building a campaign based on voter needs and not special interest groups.

“We’re building a grass-roots campaign around the city,” Albanese, 63, told The Courier. “I want to get to City Hall with a broad base of support.”

Albanese spent 11 years as a teacher and said he would partner with education colleges throughout the city and strengthen the student-teacher program if elected mayor.

Albanese said he would hire 3,800 new police .officers for patrols in the outer boroughs where crime might be ignored or under-reported. “If you have nobody on patrol…these things can drive people out of neighborhoods,” he said.

For Queens, Albanese said he would focus on ensuring continued development is done properly, and the borough recovers and rebuilds after Sandy.

All options and effects should be explored before officially jumping on a project such as the proposed Major League Soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. “[It] could really be a positive thing,” he said. “But we have to balance that with the parkland.”

Despite a lengthy term on the council, Albanese has not been in public office for about 15 years and is running in a primary against many Democratic incumbents. Some opponents include: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson.

On the Republican front:

Less than a week after his announcement, and after a long-expected endorsement, Republican Mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis picked up the backing of the Queens GOP on Friday, February 1.

“John Catsimatidis has the right experience as an independent businessman to lead New York and solve our city’s problems with common sense,” said party chair Phil Ragusa in a statement. The grocery store magnet is one of only a handful of candidates whose career hasn’t been in public service. Upon his endorsement, Catsimatidis noted his father worked as a bus boy at Riccardo’s in Astoria.

“I am very pleased to accept the Queens County Republican Party’s official endorsement,” Catsimatidis said. “My father who came over from the old country when I was just six months of age worked hard for our family and taught me the value of hard work and because he worked hard we never knew we were poor.”

 

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Small biz shows support for Queens soccer stadium


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

John Ferrera, head of the Junction Boulevard Merchants Association, noted that a professional soccer arena in the heart of Queens would spur local culture and be an economic boon to the area.

“You’ll see for yourself, whenever there’s a major soccer match between countries, how excited the neighborhoods get in Queens,” said Ferrera, who’s been in business on Junction for more than 30 years. “It is a perfect time and place.”

More than 1,000 small businesses have signed letters of support, and put up signage, to bring a Major League Soccer (MLS) Stadium to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The announcement, held at El Sabor Latino in Elmhurst on Friday, January 18, featured elected officials, business leaders and shop owners in the neighborhood.

Should a potential 25,000-seat arena go into the park, MLS officials expect businesses in nearby Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst to see significant patronage from fans before and after games. Though there is no concrete amount of economic activity the stadium could bring to northern central Queens, it should be significant, said Brett Lashbrook, the league’s point man for the project.

Lashbrook cited MLS’ “March to the Match,” in which fans will often meet up at a local establishment in walking distance from an arena. The national and international tradition, he said, has been widely successful for businesses around stadiums.

“We all know what it can do potentially,” said State Senator Jose Peralta. “And that’s why Major League Soccer has the support of over 1,000 small businesses in the, because they understand that the backbone of this community, the small businesses, will also receive an improvement in their bottom line while working towards debt consolidation.”

Peralta said the city and residents should not turn down a potential good deal when they see it, but promised to “hold [league officials’] feet to the fire” on fulfilling the promises attached to the project. Some of these include pouring money into Flushing Meadows to revive the park.

Components of the project are still left wide open, including who will own the team, where displaced parkland will go and what ramifications are yet to come.

Any lost parkland would have to be replaced in a relatively close area. Lashbrook said the league had not picked out a site for the potential new greenspace, but acknowledged a portion of the Queensway — a proposed walkway from Rego Park to Ozone Park — has been suggested as a possibility.

But while fans are expected to be drawn to businesses along Roosevelt Avenue, known for hosting passionate crowds during international games, there are currently no plans in the works to repair the pothole-ridden thoroughfare, which has been infected with questionable activity, through city financing.

“[T]here won’t be any city financing,” Lashbrook said. “[We are] committed to replacing the parkland…committed to improving and upgrading all the soccer fields in the park, as well as making a significant investment — that’s millions and millions of dollars — in upgrading the park as a whole as well as the adjacent neighborhoods.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Overcast with a chance of rain. Fog early. High of 63. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph shifting to the NNW in the afternoon. Chance of rain 30%. Monday Night: Overcast with a chance of rain. Low of 36. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Double Life exhibition

SculptureCenter in Long Island City is pleased to present the exhibition Double Life, which brings together a group of artists that share a performance-based approach to sculpture. Common strategies include inhabiting the physical site of exhibition, leaving indexical marks on images of their own making, and re-contextualizing or re-animating various objects, images and readymades. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Flu shot supply dwindling as New York faces public health emergency

With the flu epidemic hitting the Tri-State Area hard, many pharmacies have begun to run out of flu shot supplies. Read more: CBS New York

Bus strike threat looms over NYC schools

A continuing dispute over job protections for New York City school bus drivers means the threat of a strike is still looming, potentially disrupting transportation for about 152,000 students as soon as this week. Read more: NBC New York

Flushing apartment building fire sends one person to hospital

According to the FDNY, the fire started in a bathroom ceiling fan on the top floor of a seven-story building at 42-02 Kissena Boulevard shortly after 10 p.m. Read more: NY1

Weekend bird hits force 2 jets to return to JFK

Authorities say bird strikes forced two planes to return to Kennedy Airport shortly after takeoff over the weekend. Read more: Fox New York

Rare large parcel of property near Citi Field hits the market

Property near Citi Field is hotter than ever right now with proposals for a state-of-the-art new mall and a $300 million Major League Soccer stadium to be constructed nearby. Read more: New York Daily News

Life after Sandy: Businesses still waiting for relief in the Rockaways

Despite all the fund raising and promises of recovery, when it comes to getting small businesses in Queens up and running after Sandy, the federal government has approved 37 loans for the entire borough, while the city has given out only 28. In the Rockaways, where much of the area was without heat and power for weeks after the storm, it’s given 9 loans. Read more: WYNC

‘Argo” scores sweet Golden Globe victory with two top awards

Iran hostage drama “Argo” scored a sweet double victory at the Golden Globe awards on Sunday, winning best movie drama – the night’s top prize – and best director for Ben Affleck on a night that left front-runner “Lincoln” with just one trophy. Read more: Reuters

 

 

Residents march against MLS stadium plans


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Less than a week after Major League Soccer (MLS) held meetings on consecutive days regarding its planned stadium for Queens, residents opposed to the project took to the streets to march against it.

“Parkland is sacred,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “And it shouldn’t be taken away for a money-making proposition.”

Avella, also a candidate for borough president, and Councilmember Julissa Ferreras headlined the protest march on Sunday, December 9.

Two other massive projects — expansion at Willets Point and at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center — begin at the same time a new soccer stadium would be built. Avella said that would create gridlock and make access for parkgoers nearly impossible.

“You not only have the discussion about a soccer stadium,” Avella said. “You also have the tennis stadium, the tennis association that wants to expand, and you have Willets Point — all of these projects supposedly are going to be done at the same time.”

Ferreras said the project could not move forward without bringing the community into play. The future of Flushing Meadows needed to reflect the community, she said, and what it needs regarding greenspace.

“We cannot make any deals behind closed doors,” Ferreras said. “We cannot have such an important part of our community — the lungs of our community — be negotiated in City Hall. This is important for our community; I cannot be supportive of a project that says it’s at the finish line, when we are only at the beginning.”

Luis Gonzalez, a member of advocacy group Make the Road New York, said that while the residents around the park love to use its amenities to play soccer, that does not mean the community, as a whole, wants to have a stadium in the middle of open space.

“I play soccer in the park,” he said. “Our community loves soccer. But that doesn’t mean we want a soccer stadium right in the middle of the park. The kids in our community desperately need open space to exercise.”

MLS pitches Queens soccer stadium to community


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Major League Soccer

As most of the 500-plus inside the Queens Theater cheered for a new soccer team to play just yards away, a small crowd gathered in the lobby with signs that contrasted the ones ushers offered when walking in.

A town hall meeting on Tuesday, December 3 hosted by Major League Soccer (MLS) to inform the community of its plans to build a 25,000 seat stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park over what is currently the Fountain of Planets.

“Our goal is to be one of the top soccer leagues in the world by 2022,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “This team and this stadium will help us achieve that. You can’t be a dominate soccer league without having a dominate team in the largest, and most important city in the world.”

The theater itself was filled mostly with soccer supporters who wanted to see MLS’ potential 20th team call Queens its home. In between translations or speakers, cheers could be heard such as “build it, baby.”

A highlight of Garber’s presentation was the support to local small businesses surrounding the park and fuel the already bulging soccer culture that’s developed in the borough.

More than 700 businesses had signed letters of support of the stadium, Garber said. He also likened a tradition by fans of the Seattle Sounders FC, who will often march to the stadium and stop at local businesses on the way.

The league has set out to speak to communities throughout the borough — particularly those that surround the park — including a presentation to the Queens Borough Board the night before. The questions asked by the audience focused on getting jobs at the arena, who would own the new team and where the displaced parkland would go.

State Senator Jose Peralta voiced his support for the project and promised to keep the league accountable for the promises attached to the stadium.

“Obviously, there’s a lot to like about MLS’ proposal,” he said. “But as I have said to them before, and I will say to MLS again tonight, we’re going to hold your feet to the fire.” But while he promised to ensure the lost parkland would be replaced, “let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot. Let’s recognize a good deal for what it is and work together to ensure that all the parties hold up their end of the agreement.”

Those waiting in the lobby, however, thought any kind of deal is wrong and replaced greenspace would never redeem that which is lost. The meeting, some added, was more of a rally for bringing pro soccer to Queens instead of an actual town hall.

“This is a promotional event for Major League Soccer,” said Donovan Finn, a member of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance. “I guess they can call it whatever they want, but it’s not the transparent process that Commissioner Garber was talking about during his presentation.”

Only about two of the projected 10 to 13 acres eaten up in the project would be from grassy areas in the park, according to MLS officials. The rest, mainly concrete walkways and the fountain itself, has been considered a closed off and under used part of the borough’s largest park.

NYC Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft doesn’t think the designated site is a boondock patch of park, and alleged the league was making claims to sway public interest toward the stadium.

Several attendees against the stadium alleged organizers opted to have them sit in another room with the meeting broadcasted into the it. Finn, who he arrived at 7 p.m. just as the meeting was starting, said he was told that since he did not have a reserved seat, he would have to sit in the lower room and watch from there.

“I came in right at 7 o’clock and I was asked if I had a reserved seat,” she said. “And I said ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ then they said, ‘You’re in the basement.’”

This was not the case, however, and the league had opened the room to everyone, said MLS spokesperson Risa Heller. The league had widely advertised the meeting in the two weeks leading up, she said, and tried to get the word out through mass and social media.

“Any suggestion that our town hall wasn’t open to the public is sour grapes,” she said. “This was a come one, come all event.”