Soccer stadium plans announced for Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Soccer stadium plans announced for Flushing Meadows Corona Park
By Rich Bockmann

The commissioner of Major League Soccer met with the Queens press corps Friday morning to discuss the outfit’s plans to build a 25,000-seat stadium on city-owned land in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Commissioner Don Garber told reporters the league’s plan called for a stadium on 10 to 13 acres in the western end of the park on what is now the Fountain of Industry.

The league will be required to replace the Parks Department-owned land it acquires from the city, though Garber said MLS was still in the preliminary stage of exploring sites.

“We’re looking at various sites within the area,” he said. An MLS representative did identify a Metropolitan Transportation Authority site near the Flushing Creek waterfront and an abandoned rail line in Rego Park as potential locations.

Garber said the stadium would host about 20 games a year and an equal amount of miscellaneous events. The league was looking to reach an agreement with the New York Mets to provide parking arrangements, as well as build space for vehicles underneath the Van Wyck Expressway.

The operations of the stadium would, ultimately, be left up to its owner. Garber said MLS was looking to secure an owner for the stadium and the team in approximately seven months.

With projects in the pipeline for an expansion to the United States Tennis Association’s grounds in the park, as well as the development of Willets Point and a shopping mall on the park’s edge, there is concern in the community as to how these projects will take each other into consideration during their respective planning stages.

An MLS representative said the stadium’s 2014 build year was believed to be the earliest of the area’s projects, meaning the other developers would have to account for the stadium in their plans, but the league would not have to consider those other projects in its environmental impact study.

The league proposes to open the stadium in either 2016 or 2017.

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