Tag Archives: MLS

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.”

Parkland at center of MLS stadium project


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

DSC_0985w

Major League Soccer (MLS) officials presented plans for a 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to the Queens Borough Board on Monday, December 3.

But while the league promised the board that soccer would be a good neighbor to the community, questions arose regarding parking, access, replacement of the 10 to 13 acres of parkland that would be eaten up by the stadium.

Professional soccer could kick off as soon as 2016, should the project be approved, said MLS President Mark Abbott. He acknowledged this was a lofty but plausible goal for the league.

Abbott assured the board that seven of the nine existing recreational soccer fields would be completely refurbished before the first shovel breaks ground at the stadium site at what is now the Fountain of Planets. By making the borough’s largest park its home, Abbott said MLS is committed to investing in the park and “making it better for the people who use [it].”

“The idea is, we’re coming here to be a partner with the park.”

Roughly 20 to 25 games would be played at the stadium per season, Abbott said, which includes an average of 17 regular season home games. Although the stadium would be within earshot of Citi Field and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the league plans not to host any games when the Mets are playing, or during the two weeks of the U.S. Open, alleviating congestion.

Regardless, many are concerned that parking for games will spill into the neighboring community and disturb residents’ day-to-day life.

League officials are currently working with the Mets to reach an agreement to use their parking facilities — mainly the lot that used to be Shea Stadium — but do not have a time frame for when executives will sit down with Mets management, Abbott said.

But one of the biggest concerns was where the parkland would be replaced.

Abbott, fielding questions from board members and councilmembers, said MLS will not pick a site for the lost acres without getting full community feedback from the surrounding neighborhoods.

“We’ve started to look at some sites, but that’s something we need the community’s input on,” Abbott said.

The league has set up several town hall meetings in or around the park to hear the community’s thoughts of where they would like to see new greenspace.

Councilmembers Peter Vallone and Mark Weprin agreed that before any official stance could be taken on the proposal, a dedicated, well-researched site for the new land has to be chosen.

“I don’t think we can responsibly take a position until we know all the details,” Vallone said. “Especially regarding what parkland would replace the park. This has to be parkland that effectively replaces and is as usable as this parkland is.”

Weprin said he was currently open minded to the idea, but many of the concerns first had to be addressed before any decision could be made.

“I think it could be great for economic development in the area,” he said. “But there are a lot of concerns that I would like to see addressed before we approve it. To reject it out right would be a mistake.”

Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, however, hopes Queens residents will oppose the project, saying that any replaced land would never be the same as that lost to the project.

“These things are never of equal value, and never of equal usefulness,” he said. “And the community always gets ripped off.”

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Friday: Increasing clouds, with a high near 47. Light and variable wind becoming east 6 to 11 mph in the morning. Friday night: A slight chance of rain or drizzle after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 41. East wind 9 to 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

EVENT of the DAY: Shirley Valentine at Queens Theatre

The Tony and Olivier Award-winning play, written by Willy Russell, is about a middle-aged housewife who finds herself unhappy and wondering what happened to all the joy in her life. But when she’s offered the chance to go on the vacation-of-a-lifetime, Shirley is introduced to the adventure, hope and, ultimately, love she had been missing. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang expressed “suicidal ideations” a month before she killed herself

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MLS seeks to build 25,000-seat soccer stadium in Queens

Major League Soccer is taking its plan to build a 25,000-seat home for a new team in New York City to the politicians in Queens who will decide the project’s fate. The league will present its plan for a stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park to Borough President Helen Marshall, Queens city council members and community leaders on Dec. 3, Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Marshall, said today in an e-mail. Read more: NJ.com

Sports teams pitch in for Sandy recovery


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Major League Soccer

Normally, loyal fans support teams in the best and, most especially, the worst times.

Now it is the teams that are giving their support as thousands still suffer in the wake in Sandy.

“Our thoughts and our prayers go out to you,” said Jets quarterback Tim Tebow in a message to fans. “Whatever we can do for you, we will be behind you as the Jets nation.”

As an effort to pitch in and help with recovery efforts, sport leagues and organizations have donated both time and money to help the area.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has pledged $400,000 toward the cause: $300,000 toward needed supplies, including flashlights and other needs; and a $100,000 cash donation which will go toward the Mayor’s Fund.

Many Queens residents have seasonal jobs at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and USTA president and board chair Jon Vegosen said the organization wanted to give back to one of the places it calls home.

“New York is the US Open’s home, and we want to aid in the rapid recovery of the city, as well as help as many people as we can directly in our home borough of Queens,” he said.

Major League Soccer (MLS) members have also given their time to help clean up some of the parks in the borough. The league contacted the Parks Department, a spokesperson said, and asked what it could do to help. On Saturday, November 3, a group of volunteers set out and removed hundreds of bags of debris from Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The following day they took hundreds more from the area around the Olmstead Center. The league is currently looking to make a deal with the city for a soccer stadium in the park.

“We were heartbroken to see the devastation that Sandy wrought in the tri-state area, which is where our league and many of our athletes and employees call home,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber, a Queens native. “We and our teams are proud to be donating money to relief funds and clean up efforts. We were happy to work with the Parks Department to clean up Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and will continue to offer our help to the local community.”

MLS will also donate $250,000 to the American Red Cross, the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, and the Mayor’s Fund.

The New York Jets, who played at Shea Stadium from 1964 to 1987, pledged on Thursday, November 8 half a million dollars to recovery efforts.

The New York Giants, who share New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium with the Jets, announced days earlier that they would donate half a million to relief efforts. Giants quarterback Eli Manning visited Staten Island with the American Red Cross to help in recovery efforts, according to the Giants. Manning and his brother Peyton led relief efforts in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck their home town of New Orleans.

Both the Mets and Yankees gave $500,000 each to help those who have suffered losses.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain, then a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 70. Winds from the South at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 61. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Spirited Irish music in Woodside

Fiddle-guitar duo Cady & Vita bring Spirited Irish music to local Woodside bar, Two Shotz. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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MLS unveils plans for Queens soccer stadium


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer (MLS) announced their rough plans for a soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park this morning, and hopes to reach an agreement with the city in the near future.

“This is a project that we have been dreaming about since the league was founded many, many years ago in 1996,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “This would be our second team in New York. This is a soccer country and this is entirely a soccer community here in Queens… Our goal is to bring the world’s game to the world’s park.”

The planned stadium is expected to seat 25,000 soccer fans, and host 20 games a year — which would be held when the Mets are not playing, Garber said. MLS would expand to create a new team for the stadium. Construction of the stadium, if approved, would create up to 2,300 union jobs; there would be 160 full-time and 750 part-time jobs once the stadium is completed.

The league hopes to reach a deal with the city soon, Garber said, and hoped a lease-agreement will be inked within the next month.

The eyed spot for the stadium is currently the Fountain of Planets, or Industry Pond, which many have called an under used area of the park. Ten to 13 acres of parkland will be eaten up in the project, Garber said, but only one acre used will be from grass areas. Garber, a Queens native, and MLS officials said they looked at a number of spots throughout the city, including Pier 40, but felt the Queens park was the prime spot for the stadium.

“We settled here in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park because we think it’s the absolute perfect place to have our 20th team,” he said.

SHoP, designer of the recently-opened Barclays Center, has been tapped to design the stadium, Garber confirmed. A concept is expected to go public in the next few weeks.

MLS is expected to reach out to the community for feedback and concerns in the next 30 days, Garber said. Community reaction to this project, and the land that will be lost, has been met with mixed reactions from surrounding communities.

If the city approves the deal, which would take 15 to 18 months and cost anywhere from $300 million to $350 million, MLS is required to replace all parkland that would be alienated by the project. The stadium would be privately financed, Garber said.

In addition to new, nearby green space, MLS has vowed to refurbish the seven soccer fields around the site — some will have to be relocated because of the stadium’s footprint. These fields would be completely renovated before construction began, Garber said.

Some of the spots MLS has looked at include the western waterfront of Flushing Creek and the land around an abandoned rail yard in Rego Park.

Garber’s goal for groundbreaking on the project is 2014, with a 2016 or 2017 opening. He said the league has been speaking with a number of potential team owners, and one could be named within the next six to eight months.

‘Green’ at the center of debate on Willets project


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

Willets Point might be making headway to become a destination for shopping and entertainment in the borough, but many either living or working near there are pointing out that the project could have negative effects on the surrounding area.

The Jackson Heights Green Alliance (JHGA) held an emergency meeting on Monday, October 1 to speak out against the parkland that would be lost be several projects planned around and within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. This includes the development of Willets Point and the parking lot to the left of Citi Field, Willets West; renovation and expansion of the U.S. Tennis Center; and talks of a possible Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium where what is currently Industry Pond sits.

Donovan Finn, a professor of urban planning at Stony Brook University and JHGA board member, said the actual green space in the park was already significantly less than what is actually billed for the borough’s largest park. Factoring in facility buildings, water, walkways and other items, there are only 333 acres of actual green space, Finn said.

“I think it’s reasonable that when all is said and done in 20 years, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which the Parks Department claims is 1,200-and-some acres, usable green space [will be] 250 acres,” Finn said. “No one would be proposing these projects in Prospect Park and Central Park. They never have and they never will.”

Talks about a possible soccer stadium at Flushing Meadows were met with disapproval from residents in attendance. Finn said a stadium, which if constructed would hold around 25,000 spectators, would be the wrong solution to clean up the area around, and including, Industry Pond.

“I would argue it’s a heavily utilized part of the park,” he said. “They’re not taking over the whole park, I admit that, but this is not the kind of use that we need.”

Many of these concerns, among others, were brought before the city at a September 27 court-mandated scoping hearing for the Willets Point project. Residents, advocates and workers voiced concerns over traffic effects, the legalities of the project and the displacement of thousands of jobs, blaming these problems on several agencies.

The hearing was designed to create a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement(SEIS) to study a number of factors that might have changed since the General Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) that was filed in 2008, because parameters of the project have changed. The study will look at items ranging from potential transit issues, effects to businesses within half a mile and possible hazardous materials, according to officials.

Because the Citi Field parking lot — most of which will become Willets West — is technically parkland, some civic representatives alleged the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) had bypassed rules for parkland alienation.

Cristyne Nicholas, a spokesperson for the Joint Venture at Willets Point, noted that the development to the north of the park was separate from any expansion at the Tennis Center, or talks for a stadium within the park. And while the parking lot is technically parkland, Nicholas said the end result would great more green space within Willets, with the construction of recreational and open space areas.

“The Willets Point redevelopment will first and foremost clean 23 acres of contaminated land,” she said. “The Willets Point project will not in any way reduce the availability of open space within Flushing Meadows Corona Park. In fact, the project will increase open space for the community by building off-season recreational uses and five acres of additional open space on the Willets Point land.”

Christina Wilkinson, representing Communities of Maspeth and Elmurst Together, said there were several state parks polices needed to be addressed before Willets West could carry on.

“The developers of this project are not entitled to circumvent the parkland alienation process and the involvement of the State Parks Department in this matter,” she said. “The city never originally proposed that parkland would be involved in the Willets Point development, and the developers doing so at this late date does not provide any excuse to avoid the alienation process.”

Benjamin Branham, the NYCEDC’s vice president for external affairs, said the hearing would help guide the project moving forward and fully understand what needs to be done to get the Willets project off the ground.

“[The] public hearing for the proposed Willets Point redevelopment plan marked an important first step in the approvals process for this transformative project that will clean up dozens of acres of toxic land and create thousands of jobs for Queens residents,” he said. “We are grateful for the significant turnout, strong enthusiasm and extensive engagement from the community on this critical project, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue we move forward.”

Hundreds rally against development at Flushing Meadows


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The Unisphere was lit-up red for American Heart Month

Hundreds of residents packed into the Our Lady of Sorrows auditorium in Corona to make known that they want to keep their park.

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the biggest park in Queens, is currently being considered for the development of a new shopping mall, two new stadiums and concert venues and several parking garages and roads inside the park.

“We are here this evening because we are going to discuss an area that is our neighbor, it means so much to us,” said Monsignor Thomas Healy of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Several people held up signs reading, “Don’t destroy our second home,” and “Don’t kill our nature.”

The Fairness Coalition of Queens, a group of nonprofit community and religious organizations, hosted the town hall meeting on Monday, September 17 to speak with the community about the effects of the potential projects in the 1,255-acre park.

Many residents are displeased with the proposed plans because they wish to keep an area that, for many, is the only open space available near home. They do not want to lose an area that many people use for both relaxation and exercise.

City Councilmember Julissa Ferreras was also in attendance, and spoke to an enthusiastic crowd about her love for Flushing Meadows.

“We understand that each inch of land we give up is an inch we are not getting back,” she said. “Today this [meeting] has shown to the world that our community does matter, and that our park is our park.”

Amongst hopeful developers are the Wilpon family, the owner of the New York Mets, who proposes to use parkland west of Citi Field to build the largest shopping mall in the city, at 1.4 million-square-feet.

Also, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) wishes to construct two new tennis stadiums and two parking garages within the park.

Danny Zausner, managing director of the tennis center, previously said that the USTA plans will not impact the spot in a footprint perspective.

“We’re taking our existing parking lots in that perimeter and building up,” Zausner said.

Finally, Major League Soccer (MLS) seeks to build a 25,000-seat stadium and concert venue, along with an additional parking garage.

Senator Jose Peralta advocates the construction of an MLS stadium, and has a number of supporters behind him.

Peralta, a Willets Point supporter who went to Monday’s meeting, says that having a new soccer field in a soccer-crazed community could only be beneficial. The number of construction, game-day and permanent jobs could be advantageous to the largely working-class population.

If an MLS stadium is constructed, the senator’s office is also looking into replacement parkland to establish nearby.

In a statement issued by the MLS, it is said that the organization is committed to securing another team for the league located in New York City, and are “thrilled about bringing the world’s sport to the world’s park.” MLS is open to working with the community to build a facility for everyone to enjoy, they said.

“A privately financed soccer stadium to replace a big hole in the ground filled with dirty water is a good deal for soccer fans and the park-goers who would get to enjoy the many upgrades to the park,” said Peralta.

Plan for Queens soccer stadium moving forward


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

DSC_0985w

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.

 

Ecuador to face Chile at Citi Field


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

It’ll be a different kind of pitch.

For one night only, the Citi Field diamond will play host to a match between the Ecuadorian and Chilean national teams on Wednesday, August 15, as the sport continues to become more popular in the city and the country.

Chile is currently ranked 15th in the world, according to the most recent FIFA standings. Ecuador is currently ranked five spots below, at 20.

At a July 30 press conference for the match, both the Consul General of Chile, Julio Fiol, and Consul General of Ecuador, Jorge Lopez, both recognized the large immigrant populations their respective nations had in Queens.

“We think the small Chilean community that is around here will come as a whole,” Fiol said. “And I take this opportunity to invite them all, as well as our Ecuadorian and Latin American friends.”

Assemblymember Francisco Moya, who grew up playing soccer in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, said at the conference that the game was an outstanding effort. He also testified to the large soccer-playing community in Queens.

“When we have two great [teams], that will showcase some of the world’s best soccer players right here in our own backyard,” he said. “I can only say they’ve done a tremendous job in the promotion of [this] game.”

This is just the third time in a year the ballpark has hosted a soccer match. Ecuador faced off against Greece at Citi last year, when Moya was named an honorary captain for former.

Days later, Italy’s Juventus FC took on Mexican team Club America, with Juventus taking it, 1 – 0.

The matches, much like this year’s, were intended to reflect the large immigrant populations in Queens, organizers said.

Soccer’s status continues to grow in the borough with talks of a professional soccer league team and stadium coming to Flushing Meadows.

Several elected officials confirmed the city was in talks with Major League Soccer (MLS) about a potential team coming to Queens. It would be the second MLS team in the metropolitan area, along with the New York Red Bulls.

While there are not contingent plans for a stadium, or what would be the league’s 20th team, officials and MLS said they are confident and excited to explore bringing a new team to the area.

And only a few weeks ago, at Resorts World Casino New York City, former FC Aston Villa star Ian Taylor spent a morning with some 30 members of the South Queens Boys & Girls club to teach them fundamentals of the game.

“We are thrilled to work with Resorts World Casino New York City and give a special experience to children from the South Queens Boys and Girls Club,” Taylor said at the event.

Op Ed: Soccer stadium would be a major league score


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

moya headshot

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.

 

City, MLS in talks to bring soccer to Queens


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

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.

Development up throughout Queens


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

willets3w

Temperatures are not the only thing that’s been skyrocketing this summer.

Development in Queens has been booming in the borough, with announcements of major projects, the near-completion of others, and talks of even more to come.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on June 14 the long-awaited, finalized plans for a Willets Point facelift that is expected to bring more than 12,000 union construction jobs and 7,000 permanent jobs.

The project includes a 200-room hotel and 30,000-square-feet of retail space on what is now the Iron Triangle, a 20-acre convertible recreational area, and a 200-store shopping area on what is currently the west parking lot of Citi Field.

Roughly $3 billion in private investment will go into this project, as well as $100 million in city capital that will go toward demolition and permanent improvements. In turn, the overhaul of the area is expected to bring an estimated $4.2 billion in economic activity over the next 30 years.

It was announced the same day that the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, home to the U.S. Open, will undergo its own expansions and renovations.

The Louis Armstrong Stadium, which currently holds about 10,000 fans, will be replaced — in the same spot — with an updated stadium that will hold 15,000 fans and include administrative and broadcast spaces.

The Grandstand Stadium will be built in the southwest corner of the center, holding some 8,000 spectators.

The renovations, which are expected to begin in the fall of 2013, are expected to bring an extra 10,000 tennis fans to the center per day during the U.S. Open.

Following the announcements for the Tennis Center, Borough President Helen Marshall said this was a step forward for both Queens and the Tennis Center, which employs 6,000 with seasonal jobs, according to the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA).

Marshall said that this would further the already robust revenue the National Championship brings to Queens.

“For generations the borough of Queens has played host to the U.S. Open, a world class sporting event and a major economic catalyst for our city,” she said. “I look forward to working with the USTA to ensure that the new additions to the National Tennis Center bring the maximum benefit to the people of the borough of Queens.”

Sixty acres of downtown Flushing waterfront would also be revitalized as part of the state’s Department of State Brownfield Opportunity Areas program.

The proram consists of mixed use projects over the next 10 years, including recreational, commercial, entertainment and residential portions.

And sailing west, another waterfront in Queens might get a revamp of its own.

The Hallets Point project could break ground as early as the fall of 2013, the Daily News reported. The process would reshape seven acres of Astoria waterfront and see around 2,200 housing units throughout seven towers, along with a supermarket and a park along the East River.

Lincoln Equities Group, the developer of the project, has agreed to set aside 20 percent of the units for affordable housing aimed at seniors, a project official told the Daily News. The site will be located close to the Astoria Houses, a public housing complex.

The Briarwood Organization is currently adding to its plaza on Bell Boulevard that will be home to business and medical offices. The site, located at 36-29 Bell Boulevard, is the most recent of several structures the century-old development company has built on Bell Boulevard. The building is expected to open September 2013, Briarwood partners said.

To the south, a new center that looks to spark development, creativity and understanding is in its last stages of completion.

A new center for New York Families of Austic Children is expected to open this September, said NYFAC CEO Andrew Baumann. The center will be home to programs ranging from drama to expression for children and adults with autism, Baumann said, along with support groups and educational programs for parents and family members.

The new center will be at 164-14 Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach.

And as ground is being broken or the final cornerstone is laid, plans for even further development in the borough are still in the works.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation has opened four Requests For Proposals (RFPs) throughout the city — one of which is located in College Point.

The 40,000-square-foot rectangular lot is in the northeast portion of the area’s Corporate Park, which currently houses more than 200 corporations employing approximately 6,000 employees.

And in recent weeks there have been talks of bringing a new Major League Soccer (MLS) Stadium — and new team — to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The stadium, it has been reported, would sit some 20,000 to 25,000 soccer fans in one of the borough’s largest parks. Assemblymember Francisco Moya said the project would have multiple benefits for the borough, both economically and culturally.

The potential project — still in its earliest stages, according to the assemblymember — would be privately financed, not affecting taxpayers. As part of any deal, Moya said, the developer would renovate the several soccer fields in the park now.

Moya also noted the large soccer culture not just in Queens, but in the park. The devout FC Barcelona fan said he learned the game in Flushing Meadows as a child and has played there since.

“That’s where my dad took me to play,” he said. “That’s where I played my whole life.”