Monday, June 25, 2012

Pro Soccer Stadium Proposed for Flushing Meadows

CitiField and the National Tennis Center could be joined by yet another professional sports arena. Officials from Major League Soccer presented the city with a detailed proposal to build a 25,000 seat pro soccer stadium on eight acres in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Local politicians are supporting the plan, which could create 2,000 union construction jobs, 300 permanent full-time jobs and 900 part-time jobs.

The plan is still in the early stages, but if approved, the MLS thinks it could be built within one to two years. The plan would face several hurdles, as the land is city-owned, and it would be taking away parkland, so they'd have to make a new park somewhere else. But apparently the meetings are going quite well - considering how much this city loves sporting venues.

The arena would be for a currently unnamed team, and would be privately financed. Major League Soccer's pitch: "The world's game should be played in the world's park," a nod to the park being the site of the 1939 and 1964 world's fairs. The propsal is surprising given that MLS opened the $220 million Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., in 2010.

But landing a stadium in New York City—a media capital and an ethnically diverse urban center—would be a significant boost to the league's international stature. Founded in 1993, the MLS comprises 19 teams, 16 in the U.S. and three in Canada.

Six acres of the eight-acre site are currently occupied by a fenced off concrete pool filled with stagnant water, which would be an improvement for the park. As part of the proposal, the league would also refurbish public soccer fields on the site and create a cricket field and volleyball courts.    

The league has scoped out several sites in the city in recent months, including Willets Point in Queens and Pier 40 on the Hudson River Park. The Pier 40 proposal was criticized after the plans became public this spring. Community members were concerned the stadium would overwhelm the popular waterside park and lead to parking and transportation problems.

A home in Flushing Meadows Corona Park would put the stadium near other major sports venues, Citi Field and the USTA Billie Jean National Tennis Center.