Soccer scores a goal with Queens small businesses
by Andrew Pavia
Jan 23, 2013 | 1010 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Brett Lashbrook of MLS announcing 1,000 signatures of support from small businesses in Queens.
Brett Lashbrook of MLS announcing 1,000 signatures of support from small businesses in Queens.
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With small businesses in Queens facing tough economic times, Major League Soccer’s (MLS) proposal for a new stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park may be their saving grace.

MLS last week announced that over 1,000 small businesses have signed letters of support calling for the stadium's construction in the park.

One of the main features of a soccer stadium is the culture that comes along with it. Those who attend games participate in a traditional “March to the Match.” Fans would gather at various locations in the neighborhoods around the stadium, such as bars or restaurants, and then walk together to the proposed 25,000-seat stadium.

Some small business owners see the stadium as a way to spark economic activity at business in Corona and Flushing. Brett Lashbrook of MLS said, that along with the businesses that have signed letters of support many are putting posters in their storefronts.

From hair salons to small delis, signs in English and Spanish that read “Let's Bring Pro Soccer to Queens” are a common sight in storefront windows along Junction Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue in Corona.

“MLS is extremely grateful and excited about the support,” he said. “We see that soccer fans will shop, eat and dine in local, nearby establishments, and we take that very seriously.”

Donna Valdez, manager of Los Potrillos Restaurant, said she believes a stadium would be good for business.

“What really caught my attention,” she said, “was that they are going to give over 1,000 jobs to residents.”

Valdez said she believes her business will benefit from fans headed to the stadium, and said most businesses in the neighborhood were supportive.

However, not everyone is happy about parkland being used to build a pro soccer stadium. Protestors from a group called the Fairness Coalition of Queens turned out in big numbers at a recent town hall hosted by MLS to discuss the proposal.

Many complained that they were shuttled into a basement and not allowed to raise their concerns with league representatives.

They also protested last week when MLS announced the small business support. Maria Alvarez actually got into the event, and asked why it was so important for MLS to build the stadium in the park.

“It’s very difficult to find 10 acres in the urban footprint, with public transportation and with large parking networks,” answered Lashbrook.

MLS has agreed to replace the parkland elsewhere in Queens, but a detailed proposal on how that would happen has not been offered yet.

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said that small businesses in Queens should welcome the stadium.

“Supporting this stadium is a no-brainer for small businesses in Queens,” he said. “More people in our neighborhoods will bring more customers to many of the shops and restaurants around the park, which will be a welcome sight to business owners.”

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