By Joe Anuta
Major League Soccer released a survey last week showing that seven out of 10 Queens residents support building a new 25,000-capacity stadium in Queens.
The survey questioned a representative sample of 650 registered Queens voters, including a special focus on areas near the proposed site at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which made up 150 of the respondents.
“There is tremendous support for building a new pro soccer stadium in Queens. The seven in 10 who are in favor of the project are from across the demographic spectrum, with strong support from the borough’s large soccer fan base,” the survey stated.
The survey was compiled by Global Strategy Group, a national public relations company registered as a lobbyist for MLS, according to a city database.
It paints broad support for a project that has grown more contentious as community groups in neighborhoods like Corona, Flushing and Willets Point rally to put the brakes on development in the borough’s largest greenspace. An over-arching group called the Fairness Coalition, comprised of individual nonprofits, has led the charge to keep large projects out of the park.
MLS would like the stadium to be built on what is known as Industry Pond, a non-working watery relic from the 1964 World’s Fair that is situated at the end of a promenade extending roughly northeast from the Unisphere.
The plan has the support of state Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) and state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), but according to Hilary Klein, lead organizer for Make the Road New York, a member of the Fairness Coalition, that land is heavily used for recreation, and regardless of whether the pond is functioning, it is still open space that should not be taken away for a stadium.
In addition, she said, the project should not be considered without taking into account other developments slated for Flushing Meadows.
The city Economic Development Corp. is trying to redevelop nearby Willets Point which includes a 1 million-square-foot shopping mall that will technically be built on parkland that is now a parking lot, and the United States Tennis Association is proposing to expand its borders by less than an acre.
Klein is skeptical the survey is a true representation of how the project is perceived.
“I don’t necessarily think it represents community opinion as a barometer,” Klein said.
MLS released a number of the 35 or so survey questions it said were relevant to TimesLedger Newspapers.
In response to one question, about 60 percent of those consulted said that they had not heard of the project before, while 37 percent were familiar with it.
In a later question, the survey asked: “As you may know, the exact plan for the Major League Soccer stadium is to build it in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Having heard this, do you support or oppose the plan to build a Major League Soccer stadium in Queens?”
The margin of support was about the same for this, with 67 percent of the respondents approving.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.