Tag Archives: Soccer

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

Citizens group demands ‘overdue’ stormproof measures to prevent future devastation of Rockaways beaches

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NY1 Exclusive: Red Cross Worker Charged With Alleged Sexual Abuse Of Woman Who Lost Her Home To Sandy

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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

Weekend Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 63. West wind 9 to 13 mph. Thursday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 52. Southwest wind around 8 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: The Mutations

Devil Science Theater is an interactive event where the audience plays drinking games and makes fun of terrible movies while being egged on by professional comedians in the crowd. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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TSA disarms 9 at NYC airports

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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.

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.

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 5 p.m. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. Southwest wind 7 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. Friday Night: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

EVENT of the DAY: “Knocked Up” at Rufus King Park

8 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., A one-night stand results in an unexpected pregnancy for entertainment reporter Alison (Katherine Heigl), who vows to be a good mom and keep her career on track by trying to make things work with the slacker (Seth Rogen) who knocked her up. It’s anything but smooth sailing as the odd couple gets acquainted, but Alison finds there’s more to her baby’s daddy than she originally thought.  Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Teacher sues over ‘preach’ of contract

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NYC report critical of public housing agency

The city’s public housing authority is beset by inefficient management and bureaucratic practices that contribute to a growing repair backlog of hundreds of thousands of work orders, a city-hired consultant said in a report made public Thursday. City Housing Authority Commissioner John Rhea said following the release that he will seek to overhaul the agency’s board, and officials stressed that some of the recommended changes in the report by The Boston Consulting Group were already under way. Read more: NBC New York

 

Ecuador routs Chile in front of thousands at Citi Field


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

Draped in a Chilean flag outside of Citi Field, Manuel Rojas stood with his father as they were interviewed by Ernesto Diaz — who Rojas said was a big name in Chilean radio.

Rojas, 18, from Bridgeport, Connecticut, predicted Chile would best Ecuador in the night’s international friendly match at the ballpark 2-1, despite the fan base being mostly dressed in Ecuador yellow — many of whom predicted the same score in Ecuador’s favor.

“[Chile fans] come to this sport even if we’re out numbered on to a million,” he said.

Rojas’ game prediction fell short, however, as Chile lost to Ecuador 3-0 on Wednesday, August 15 to the roaring cheer of thousands of Ecuador fans.

See photos from the game

Last year, Ecuador played an exhibition match against Greece — also in reflection to two prominent cultures in the city — but the game ended in a draw. This year they came back in an attempt to claim Citi Field as theirs.

From the coin toss — by honorary Ecuador captain and Assemblymember Francisco Moya — onward for the next 90 minutes, fans cheered, groaned in frustration and waived Ecuadorian and Chilean flags.

The scoring kicked off early on when Ecuador and Manchester United star Antonio Valencia fed the ball to Narciso Mina, netting the first goal past Chilean Miguel Pinto. A scream of Ecuadorian cheers resonated through Citi, leaving the stadium shaking.

All of this in the backdrop of Ecuador in a diplomatic spat with the United Kingdom over granting asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Asange.

Some hailed from these countries, others had roots there, and others were just fans of the game with unique connections to one of these two countries.

Evelyn Pallo, born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and now living in Flushing, saw Ecuador play in New Jersey a few years ago but said she was excited when she heard the team she devoutly follows was coming to Queens.

Others were coming to get a better feel for the sport and the fanbase the city has.

Steve Dordal from Bayside was stationed in Ecuador with the U.S. Navy in 1983 and said he enjoyed his time there.

What brought Dordal, 44, to this game was an interest in soccer and desire to see what the fan base in Queens was like after hearing a soccer stadium might be coming to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

“I just want to see how many people show up and the enthusiasm of the people in the area,” he said

During his stay, Dordal said he and other sailors worked on an orphanage, where they played the game with some of the local children. Despite being much younger, he said, the children beat the American opponents and left an impression on them.

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.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

EVENT of the DAY: 14th annual free summer concert at St. John’s University

This year the Queens Symphony Orchestra presents “La Traviata” at the 14th Annual St. John’s University Summer Concert. Wednesday, August 1, at 7 p.m. on the Queen’s Campus Great Lawn. No charge and no tickets are necessary, just bring your lawn chair or blanket and enjoy live opera under the stars, there’s no better way to spend a warm summer evening.

[Click here for more info] or to [submit an event of your own]

Neighbors say empty lot in Queens is a nuisance

Some residents of Whitestone, Queens, say that an undeveloped six-acre lot has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other creatures. The developer, Whitestone jewels, broke ground on the land about 4 years ago when they planned to build more than 50 homes. Read more: [Fox 5]

Queens homeowner says root of tree problem still exists

A huge, 100-year-old tree sits right outside Mickey Garnploog’s house in Woodside, Queens and he says it’s slowly but surely uprooting. Read More: [NY1]

Turnaround schools revert to old names

The city has retreated from part of its turnaround plan for 24 low-performing schools, telling principals the schools will keep their original names. A Department of Education letter to principals outlined the change in strategy regarding the names, and offered guidance on how to get the schools in shape before September. The schools affected include John Dewey High School in Brooklyn and Newtown High School in Queens, among others. [NY Times]

Queens’ new top architect

Derek Lee, the Buildings Department’s new Queens Borough Commissioner, started his second stint this earlier this month as the borough’s top architect. Lee, who oversees more than 15,000 blocks of houses, work sites and developments, said his top priority is safety. Read More: [NY Daily News]

Soccer’s worldwide popularity stretches to Queens

From the friendly pick-up games to a growing number of leagues and tournaments, soccer fever is high in Queens. It’s a summertime favorite for many immigrants, who play in the shadow of Citi Field and parks and playgrounds across the borough. Read More: [NY1]

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.

Germany fans disappointed in loss to Azzuri


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

As their team fell to Italy in the Euro Cup semi-finals Thursday afternoon, Germany fans that poured into Zum Stammtisch in Glendale banged tankards of beer against wooden tables as they saw their hopes dashed.

The restaurant has been hosting Euro Cup 2012 viewing parties, to the delight of German-American fans in the neighborhood.

Steve Brunner said Zum Stammtisch has been a meeting place for residents and German fans in the neighborhood to cheer on their team over a few beers.

“[Soccer is] part of the German culture and you get a feel of that when you’re in this place,” he said.

Brunner’s own interest in soccer developed four years ago when he was in the Black Forest for a family wedding. He and his uncle decided to visit Munich, where they saw Germany play Austria — and instantly became a fan.

The restaurant has brought in decent sized crowds for games that are normally played in the late morning or mid-afternoon.

“We’re getting 80 to 100 people,” said Werner Lehner, who owns the restaurant along with his brother Hans.

Lehner said Zum Stammtisch especially gets a crowd when the German National Team is playing, bringing in familiar friends and dedicated fans from the neighborhood.

After Italy scored its second goal, the packed back room – with a 10-foot projection screen – was filled with boos and the sounds of fists banging on wooden tables.

One fan screamed, “Do they have this referee’s family tied to a tree somewhere in Europe?”