MLS head visits Queens chamber to push stadium
by Andrew Pavia
Oct 10, 2012 | 11330 views | 2 2 comments | 124 124 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With controversy surrounding proposed development at Willets Point and in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Major League Soccer (MLS) is trying to get Queens behind its own proposed project.

Not only does MLS want to open a new 25,000-seat arena in the park, but they want to create an entirely new team that would call Queens home.

The proposed arena would be built over the Fountain of the Planets, a relic from the World's Fairs the park hosted.

MLS officials hope to get the project started sometime in 2014. Construction on the site is expected to last from 15 to 18 months and create an estimated 2,100-2,300 jobs, which will be union labor.

The stadium itself will look to hire 160 full-time employees and 750 part-time employees, which will have an emphasis on hiring locally.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber spoke before the Queens chamber of Commerce last Friday to drum up support for the project. Garber is from Queens, and said his hometown borough is the perfect place for the league's 20th team, even more so than Miami and Houston.

“This is the perfect place for a soccer team to be based,” he said. “This is the world's borough, this is the world's game, and this is the world's park.”

Garber said the cultural diversity of Queens is a key factor in why MLS believes that a soccer team in the borough will be successful.

While the proposed stadium would hold 25,000 people now, MLS stated that it will be asking the city for approval to have a 35,000-seat stadium, giving it the ability to expand seating in the future. A spokesperson for MLS said that if an expansion did occur, no more park land would be required.

But not everyone is on board with the proposal. Local community groups have been hold rallies and town halls in opposition to taking park land and handing it over for development.

Anna Dioguardi Moyano of Queens Community House, a member of the Fairness Coalition of Queens, voiced her concern regarding the proposed stadium at a recent hearing.

"We feel like there is merit, but it is deeply problematic for the park," she said.

Moyano said putting a stadium in the middle of the park is a concern for parents who use the park on weekends and play with their children.

“The stadium will take up precious and important space," she said.

But Garber said he believes that the neighborhoods surrounding the park would benefit from the stadium.

“I am 100 percent convinced that this park will be a better place, be more connected with the community, provide jobs and economic benefit and will just be something that people will be proud of,” he said.

Garber made it clear that MLS wants to be known for being an involvedmember of the Queens community.

“We will make a significant investment in the community, recreations and sports in the park, so as part of our project we’re going to rebuild all of the soccer fields.”

If approved, the stadium would host approximately 25 soccer games a year, plus roughly 15 other events. Garber said attendees would utilize Citi Field's parking lot, working with the Mets on scheduling.

Garber said the project could include additional parking being created under the Van Wyck Expressway.

“Not one blade of grass will be used for parking,” he said. “I think our stadium, and our team and an engaged owner that will be involved in the community will make that park better.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Scott Y.
October 10, 2012
I'm pretty sure that Garber knows that there is already a team in Houston, so it looks like the reporter needs to frame his quotes a little more accurately.
I hate NIMBYs
October 10, 2012
I bet none of these "critics" actually use this park, otherwise they would know that this spot isn't "in the middle of the park", nor is the space even used for anything other than a giant toxic pool of waste water. These "critics" just want to complain about things in order to get their names on the newspaper.

Bunch of hypocrites.