Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cosmos Plan $400M Soccer Stadium at Belmont Park

The New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League is placing a $400 million wager of sorts in the hope to build a 25,000-seat soccer stadium at the Belmont Park development site. A proposal for the privately funded project was presented to the Empire State Development Corp. last week — is completely independent of MLS, and separate from that league’s plans to construct a stadium in Flushing, Queens. If the plan is approved, construction would begin in 2014, and the Cosmos would move there for the 2016 season

Plans for the $400 million project were submitted last week to New York's Empire State Development Corp., which will decide later this year on how to develop the 400-acre racetrack property in Elmont, just east of New York City.

The New York Racing Authority no longer owns the land at Belmont. It is the property of the state, and operated by the Empire State Development Corp.

“We plan to develop an iconic project for the region and build a state-of-the-art stadium that will make Nassau County and the entire region proud,” said Seamus O’Brien, chairman and CEO of the New York Cosmos. "Belmont Park is an ideal location and a win-win for everyone involved.”

A new soccer stadium could be an economic boon for struggling Nassau County following last year's announcement that the National Hockey League's New York Islanders were relocating to Brooklyn in 2015.

The Belmont proposal is completely independent of Major League Soccer's plans to construct a stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, near CitiField.
[See ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jun 25, 2012]

The Cosmos believe that Belmont Park could be easily transformed into an entertainment complex, and its proposal, called Elmont Crossings, includes plans for nine new restaurants, retail space, a 175-room hotel and a 4.3-acre public park. Team officials say it would create more than 500 construction jobs and over 3,000 full-time permanent jobs.

If approved, the team expects to break ground in 2014. Retail sites would open in 2015 and the team could begin play in the spring of 2016.

The Cosmos have undergone several ownership changes since their dynasty days in the late 1970's as part of the defunct North American Soccer League. After talks broke off with Major League Soccer in July, the team aligned itself with the revived minor-league NASL.

The club will play home games at Hofstra University's former football stadium in Hempstead, beginning this fall.

If MLS is unable to build a stadium in Queens, and if the Cosmos draw large crowds for their own NASL games and for international matches at Belmont, the franchise likely would become an attractive expansion option for Major League Soccer. It has been widely reported that the team’s ultimate goal is join the MLS in 2016.

However, not just yet, though.

“Major League Soccer continues to work with the city of New York and local elected officials on our quest to build a soccer stadium in Queens and are making progress with the project,” an MLS spokesperson said.

[See ElectricWeb | Blogger, Oct 9, 2012]

In the 1970s, the Cosmos played in the North American Soccer League, and attracted worldwide attention by signing some of the greatest players of the day including the legendary Brazilian star Pele, Italy's Georgio Chinaglia and West German star Franz Beckenbauer. The NASL disbanded in 1984, but the Cosmos played one more season in 1985 as an independent team before folding.

Pele still remains affiliated with the franchise, and he had hoped to come to New York to present the plan. He recently suffered a hip injury, however, and was unable to attend.