Soccer group outlines Qns stadium plans

Soccer group outlines Qns stadium plans
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rich Bockmann

Major League Soccer rolled out the preliminary outline last week for its plan to construct a 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber told members of the Queens press corps Friday morning that the league was looking to break ground in 2014 on 10 to 13 acres of land in the western section of the park on what is now the Fountain of Industry.

“The key thing here, folks, is that we’re laying out our vision for the plan,” Garber said. “We’re not laying out the specifics yet of exactly what that will be when it’s opened in 2016 or 2017.”

Garber said the $300 million to $350 million price tag for the stadium would be privately financed, though the league was still six to eight months away from reaching an agreement with an owner for its 20th franchise.

“We think that this team can be one of the top soccer teams in the world, and we’ll seek an owner who will fulfill that vision for us to represent this city in a way that we think will be appropriate,” he said.

Garber said MLS would be looking to reach an agreement in the next 30 days to lease the land from the city Economic Development Corp. A spokeswoman said MLS will enter into a contract on behalf of the franchise, which will assume all of the legal binding obligations.

While MLS is looking to build a 25,000-seat stadium, it is seeking approval for a 35,000-seat stadium in case the owner wants to expand in the future.

Any potential expansion, the spokeswoman added, would not change the stadium’s footprint.

Because the stadium would be built on park land, MLS would be required to replace the land it uses, and a league representative said a Metropolitan Transportation Authority site near the Flushing Creek waterfront and an abandoned rail line in Rego Park were being considered as possible locations.

Garber said that in addition to compensating for the stadium land, MLS would commit close to $10 million to rehabilitate Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s soccer fields.

As for parking, the league was in discussions with the New York Mets to use the Citi Field parking lot when baseball games are not being played, and Garber said MLS was also looking at building parking spaces underneath the Van Wyck Expressway.

“Not one blade of grass will be used for parking,” he pledged.

MLS estimated the stadium would bring 2,000 to 2,200 construction jobs as well as 160 full-time and 750 part-time jobs during operations.

The commissioner said the league would place an emphasis on hiring union labor.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.