Garber, MLS make first public pitch for a stadium in NYC

BY DAVE MARTINEZ

Over 500 people crammed into the 487 seat capacity Queens Theater in Flushing Meadow Park for Major League Soccer’s first public foray into the community to sell the benefits of their stadium project.

Dubbed a “town hall,” the closely controlled event felt more like a pep rally. Questions from the audience were only accepted in written form even though the overwhelming majority were there to support the project.

Univision star Fernando Fiore emceed the event while local politicians, business leaders, community organizers and labor representatives flanked MLS Commissioner Don Garber on stage, painting a vibrant economic and social vision for what this project could mean to Queens.

“What it’s about is building a world class soccer stadium here in Queens; a stadium I believe will be one of the best, most prestigious and most beautiful soccer stadiums anywhere in the world,” Garber said.

“We want to bring the world’s game to the world’s park.”

The Commissioner addressed issues facing the project such as concerns over replacement of used park land, the plans to assure public space would not be impeded during construction, the cost of the stadium to the community amongst other worries.

“Our plan is to work with the city of New York and the state of New York to build a stadium in Flushing Meadow Park and replace every acre of park land we use for the stadium, acre for acre, with replacement park land in the community,” he said. In fact, MLS would be contractually obligated to do so.

“One stadium is going to provide tens of millions of dollars invested into the park before we even begin talking about replacement parkland. We will invest tens of millions of dollars in the park; a park that really could use that kind of private infusion.”

According to the league’s layout, 10 to 13 acres of park space would serve as the stadium’s “footprint” in the park. Of those 10 acres, 6.5 acres consist of the closed-off Fountain of Industry, while only 2 acres of current grassland would be used for the stadium itself. The rest is currently concrete.

For those worried that the park would lose vital green areas, Garber revealed an interesting wrinkle to the plans. “All the land around the stadium will be accessible to the public so we will be providing more grass than there is today even though two acres of that site will be grassland,” he said. “You will start seeing when we are able to finalize our renditions that there will be more grass with this stadium than exists in the park today.”

“MLS will not take away any fields,” MLS President Mark Abbott added. “It’s quite the opposite. We will renovate and make better all the fields in the park. We will do it before we begin construction so that no fields will be closed during construction.” The playing fields themselves will be all weather fields managed by the Parks Department which will be available 365 days a year to the general public.

The stadium itself calls for a 25k seat arena that can be expandable to 35k in the years ahead – without the need of further expansion from their current footprint.

“Sometime in the next 30 years, because we believe this will be a popular team, we will be looking for the right to expand it to 35k seats,” he said. “We will not take any more land, we will not have to raise any roofs, we will not have to build it any higher. What we are going to do is build a 25k seat stadium and within that bowl be able to expand it another ten thousand seats sometime in the next 30 years.”

Perhaps the most well received factoid supplied by the league were the economic factors associated with the project. According to league projections, 3,000 temporary and full time jobs will be created with the project. Of those 3,000, 2,100 will be union construction jobs while 150 full time and 700 part time positions will develop from the team and stadium itself. MLS projects $60 million in annual activity and $50 million in tax revenue over the course of 30 years.

Not everyone was a proponent for “MLS to Queens.” A group of 12-15 people dubbing themselves the Fairness Coalition of Queens (or F.C. Queens) protested the event by the lobby area, handing out pamphlets questioning the proposed height of the stadium, flooding concerns associated with the wetlands, road and transportation issues as well as the “fast tracking” of the project.

Even local leaders who were there in support promised to hold the league’s “feet to the fire” when it comes to this ambitious undertaking.

“I do support the soccer field,” Senator Ann Stavisky declared. “I have questions about the relationship between the soccer field, Major League Soccer and the agreement they are going to reach with the City of New York. There are a lot of questions that have not been answered.”

“Obviously there’s lots to like about the MLS proposal,” Senator Jose Peralta said, “but as I said to (MLS) before – we are going to hold your feet to the fire. We are. There were times when city parkland would be lost and replacement parcels would be identified in Dutches County or Rockland County. That’s not going to be acceptable. Not by a long shot.

“But in holding their feat to the fire,” he continued, “let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot. Let’s recognize a good deal for what it is and work together to ensure that all parties hold to their end of their agreement.”

With the overwhelming support of local politicians and the full backing of both the offices of Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo, Garber believes the project, from the stadium to its team and ownership, will all be in place for the 2016 season.

“Our goal is to be one of the top soccer leagues in the world by 2022,” Garber said. “This team and this stadium will help us achieve that. You can’t be a dominant soccer league without having a dominant team in the largest and most important city in the world.”

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88 Responses to Garber, MLS make first public pitch for a stadium in NYC

  1. Hogatroge says:

    “You can’t be a dominant soccer league without having a dominant team in the largest and most important city in the world.”

    Can’t wait to see what incentives…err… new rules get put in place to give NYC2 a leg up on the rest of the league.

    • Shake says:

      There aren’t any, none that would keep LA or Red Bulls from immediately taking advantage of new rules as well. People act like LA got special treatment, but if any of the other teams had the resources to bring in a similar player, the league would have done the same.

      Only moves that benefit MLS first are considered, team benefit is an after thought (just look at LA in 07 and 08.)

      • Gnarls says:

        Exactly. People either don’t know or tend to forget that MLS is a single-entity league. The changes that have taken place since 2007 were sorely needed and they benefits EVERY team. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

      • Thunderbear says:

        No they wouldn’t have. Through the single entity ownership structure Lamar Hunt himself could have offered to pay Goldenballs to play for Columbus and the league would have never approved the transfer and signing. They want these players intended to bring attention to the league in cities that matter. So Columbus, Dallas and those types of teams will forever be without a huge stars. NYC, LA and possibly Seattle (only because of their club’s local popularity) will get big names. The league will manipulate the rules in order to accommodate them. Or did you really think Chivas was clamoring all over themselves to get Juan Pablo Angel when NYC wanted to bring in Rafa?

        • beto says:

          what you are missing is that ambitious cities/clubs win not rich ones. Look at Portland vs. New England; NE is a much larger market but Portland has a better chance at DP’s and big spending just because they are more ambitious not because they are rich. NY and LA just happen to be huge markets with ambitious ownership. Columbus and Dallas have not been slighted by the league, but their owners and the relative size of their fan base compared to LA, NY, Portland and Seattle.

        • Ryan in NYC by way of NC says:

          Besides, you don’t go from living in Manchester, London, and Madrid to living in Columbus, Ohio. C’mon now – be reasonable.

    • Stubbs says:

      Poor Red Bulls

    • Gnarls says:

      This is an obnoxious perspective that just needs to die. MLS has no motivation to make one team better than another, hence its undying championing of parity. Try to think a little wider, a little broader. The “Beckham Rule” was created to boost the entire league’s profile, not just LA’s. Indeed, as a single-entity system, it would be against the league’s own interests to promote one team to the detriment of the others.

      • Thunderbear says:

        No this isn’t accurate. The only place MLS would have put Beckham or any player of his stature was NYC or LA. It would be a waste of money for the single entity owned league to have him in Philidelphia or Columbus and lose the visibility of Goldenballs sitting courtside at Laker games.

        • Dimidri says:

          That’s an interesting conspiracy theory…or maybe David Beckham only wanted to live in LA…?

          As MLS’ stature grows (in large part thanks to things like the Beckham deal) stars will be willing to play in increasingly ‘worse’ (quotes intended) markets as the league itself is enough of a pull.

          Moreover, MLS has an obligation to maximize two factors-theoretical parity and talent and exposure. The status quo with the DP rule is the middle ground that maximizes both. You’re right, the league does not have absolute parity, virtually no league does and that’s fine, it has a very good degree of theoretical parity while at the same time allowing the league’s talent level to improve markedly.

        • Dimidri says:

          Oh also btw if MLS was trying to maximize Beckham’s visibility off the field, LA is the worst place to do that-he’s a star among thousands and probably is less visible there than he would be in any other city, in Columbus his presence would have made them more popular than any other team (minus OSU). TV revenue, away sell-outs, etc. are all exactly the same regardless of where Beckham plays.

          • Thunderbear says:

            Are you nuts? You don’t put the highest paid footballer in league history in a tiny market, backwater crap hole nobody wants to go to like Columbus.

        • Gnarls says:

          I was commenting on the conspiracy theory that some teams receive preferential treatment. They do not. LA does not. What applies to LA applies to FC Dallas, San Ho, and all the rest.

      • David St. Hubbins says:

        ergo why they stole donovan from san jose and sent him to LA for far below fair market value. in any other legitimate league there would have been a match fixing / fraud scandal and the team would have been docked points and relegated like Juventus.

        • Manny F says:

          Donovan wasn’t a San Jose “owned” player. He was a Bayer Lev “owned” player. San Jose got nothing because they had Donovan on loan in theory. When he came back after that half season stint, he chose LA over SJ.

          Where do you guys get your facts from?

          • slowleftarm says:

            All I have to say is that MLS is engaging in a “conspiracy” to help NYRB they need to do a better job because my team hasn’t won anything in 17 years. I’d welcome a little more “conspiring” actually.

            • Hogatroge says:

              The Red Bulls have squandered every gift horse they’ve gotten, so the league has found a new plaything in NYC.

            • Thunderbear says:

              NYRB shot themselves in the foot by signing Rafa Marquez. He’s locker room cancer and they only did it to themselves.

              • Map Monkey says:

                I think the fact that Rafa is the worst player in the league (based on his actual performance or lack thereof, and complete inability to behave as an adult) provides pretty strong evidence that he was no “gift” to NYRB.

      • ed - houston says:

        the perception is that NY and LA get preferential treatment. conspiracies are nice and all but reality is that these 2 teams have a lot of $$ to invest. investment return has worked out for LA, NY not so much. also, there is better leadership and coaching in LA.
        other teams can dishout the $$$ if they want, they just careful with their $$$-investments, can’t blame them. i don’t blame my team for not dishing out more cash, sure i would like them to, get another DP or two, but i love my team regardless.
        i was not a fan of NY2, at first, but certainly behind it now but only if they get it done in queens/flushing as proposed.

  2. Jeff says:

    Is it true they will be calling it Garber Park?

    • CentralScrutinizer says:

      Not sure if your comment is tongue-in-cheek or not, but in the long run, Garber deserves to have something named after him. He’s done an amazing job leading MLS.

    • beto says:

      HAHA! i bet he thinks they should. or at least Stadium at Garber Park

    • stpauljosh says:

      I doubt the Don would approve of that. Central Scrutinizer’s right though. Something will be and should be name after him when he’s gone form the league. Not sure how many folks really remember the late 90′s and early 00′s. Garber has done and incredible job not only to save the league’s existence, but pushed it to flourish.

    • RK says:

      No, but the team will be the New York Garbers. Or Queens Garbers.

    • RK says:

      Exactly as I suspected. Must be nice to do this for his neighborhood. No wonder he is ignoring the south.

      Don Garber
      Personal details
      Born October 9, 1957 (age 55)
      Queens, New York

      • Map Monkey says:

        I’d really like to see the Fusion comeback (not sure if that counts as the south though), but I think much of the South may not be interested in soccer.

  3. Fabio says:

    In 2016 in USA there will be also a great edition of the Copa America ( 16 teams with 6 Concacaf teams ) for the centenary of this manifestation and to have a new soccer stadium in NYC will be a great thing.

    • wandmdave says:

      Was that finalized? I remember when it was announced CONCACAF was like whoa thats the first we heard of it we’re going to have to discuss this, but I haven’t heard anything since.

    • Gnarls says:

      Hopefully! US Soccer threw cold water on that announcement. Not sure why; sounded like a done deal.

    • Hogatroge says:

      I don’t think the Queens stadium will be big enough for a Copa America game should the tournament actually go down.

  4. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    I’ll support any team that enables me to stop supporting NYRB.

    • malkin says:

      Ya, no kidding. Especially given I just moved to Greenpoint and now have less than a mile walk to the 7 train.

    • Scott A says:

      Traitor. That’s not how you support.

      • Michael F SBI Mafia Original says:

        Traitor? I don’t see it that way. What I see is a team that lost my support and respect when they traded away over 11 MLS all-stars, fired three of the best coaches in the league. I grew up going to Cosmos games. Hopefully they’ll be the new team in Quessn…

      • Michael F SBI Mafia Original says:

        Traitor? I don’t see it that way. What I see is a team that lost my support and respect when they traded away over 11 MLS all-stars, fired three of the best coaches in the league. I grew up going to Cosmos games. Hopefully they’ll be the new team in Quessn…

        • Pete says:

          That’s what you call ppl like you Traitor. Unless you were never a fan from beginning . I would go to every match knowing that they might get beat badly year 99 and 09 , but this is my team ,and if they don’t win anything for rest of my life I will be fine with it . But when they do ohh it will feel great . So pack your shit and don’t ever come back , as you are fair weather fan . My wife is a bigger fan that you are and she doesn’t even like sports , but she was there thru 09 debacle you know why the moment that you become supporter and you see the same ppl week in week out you become a family . My family expended over the 15 years to 2000 new members of all races ,nation and religions . We are SOUTH WARD

    • Brandon says:

      LOL. Amen!

  5. Pingback: First Impressions: MLS to Queens makes a strong opening pitch » Empire of Soccer - New York Red Bulls, New York Cosmos, NY2, MLS, USMNT, and World Soccer

  6. Pete says:

    If you wait for new team , please stop comming to Red Bulls games as of today . We don’t need you , we don’t need wanna be fans that if something closer and more convenient comes they jump the ship. I have feeling that cosmos the sequel will be some kind of a trend for some time , just like the nets are now . just like we Knicks fans say go cheer for your new team traitors we will doing the same thing now . Does the 7 train take you to LI so you all new Cosmo fans will go there , or you just becoming a fan of a stadium location? Btw sequels are never better than first one .
    What I have a problem with the stadium is MLS founding it , why they don’t fund stadium in DC or NE, this fans deserve it more that Metro Rejects that don’t go to the all games anyway .
    Metro till I Die ….14years and running and in this years I only missed 5 home games , living in Queens,Miami and San Francisco .

    • Good Jeremy says:

      Be careful what you wish for. A Cosmos team will take the Marquez, Henry, and Cahill type signings before you can get your hands on them. Without big stars all you have is a hideous stadium, poor management, and no club history.

      • slowleftarm says:

        What exactly is the great Cosmos “history?” A few years with some washed up stars playing fake soccer in a league that quickly went bankrupt? And most of this happened before the clowns clamoring for this non-existent joke team weren’t even born back then. I’ll take our history over that garbage any day.

        Pete – I couldn’t have said it better.

        I don’t mind being New Jersey FC. People in Brooklyn and Queens need to realize they don’t live in “the city.” You aren’t better than Jersey. You’re just another suburb.

        • CentralScrutinizer says:

          For those of us old guys that grew up watching the Cosmos with Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, and Roberto Carlos (among others), and the Washington Diplomats (Johan Cryuff and my favorite, Sonny Askew), it was a brilliant time.

          You are either too young to have experienced it or weren’t a player. Either way, feel free to knock NYRB all day long, but be careful with your uniformed, disparaging comments and revisionist history.

          • slowleftarm says:

            Pele played 50 games with the Cosmos. I’m sick of hearing about it. It was 40 years ago now. Who cares? The NASL and the Cosmos were a big fat failure. They played fake soccer with made up rules in American football stadiums on artificial turf and the whole thing went bankrupt.

            • CentralScrutinizer says:

              Methinks the left arm isn’t the only thing that’s slow …

              You are right however, about the turf, bankruptcy and ultimately, failure. But that doesn’t mean it was “garbage.” Oftentimes the first ones don’t succeed, we learn from this and are thankful for the original thought and effort. As a young player in the late ’70s and early ’80s, NASL was an inspiration. We didn’t have access to soccer on TV. The World Cup was shown on closed circuit.

              “If you know your history
              Then you would know where you coming from
              Then you wouldn’t have to ask me
              Who the heck do I think I am” – Bob Marley (Buffalo Soldier)

        • Ryan in NYC by way of NC says:

          LOL – laughable. So salty. Soooooooo salty. I live in Queens. It’s hardly a “suburb”. I work on 57th and Broadway – I can get there in 15 mins. Can you do that out in Jersey? Go sit down.

          • slowleftarm says:

            From Harrison, you can be at WTC in 20 minutes, from many Jersey suburbs you can be in Manhattan faster than that. You live in a suburb. Same as me. The only difference is I know it instead of pretending. And you sure as hell can’t be at 57th and Broadway in 15 minutes from where the Cosmos are going to play.

          • Joamiq says:

            Good for you, you live near a subway!

            Yes, you can get to the city in 20 minutes or less from many parts of Jersey. And there are many parts of Brooklyn and Queens that are pretty tough to get to Manhattan from.

          • Pete says:

            Rayan ,if you live in Hoboken or Jersey city it takes approx. 5min to get to the city , so I don’t know what you talking about .i use to live in Queens too , Middle Village to be exact and if you wanted to go to Shea stadium by public transportation it’s approx 45min . That is 10min more than I go to RBA from the same location. If you use your own transportation different takes me 5 min with out traffic to go to Shea. 45 to RBA

      • Pete says:

        RB is hideous are you serious ! I been in quiet few stadiums in MLS and its deffenetly one of the nicest ones.Cosmos have 100 mil to build a stadium in Queens , they better use some non union workers if they want to make look better than RB as this amout is not enough. Look at freedom tower 2billion over budget and its still not done.both teams will be in NY so it will be bidding war.
        Yes I wish for all this fake fans to leave .
        If they had so much money and had such a pull , their FO would field a team in spring not fall

      • Scott A says:

        “A Cosmos team will take the Marquez, Henry, and Cahill type signings before you can get your hands on them.”

        Amazing comedy.

        “Without big stars all you have is a hideous stadium, poor management, and no club history.

        Just a history of supporters forging their own identity and supporting a team that didn’t win through [thick and] thin. You don’t get this soccer thing, do you.

        • Good Jeremy says:

          You really doubt that a Cosmos entity from Queens wouldn’t get guys like Henry a bit before a New Jersey outfit named after an energy drink?

          I’ll stick by the poor management comment. It’s not Galaxy under Lalas bad, but it has been consistently poor since the league’s inception.

          Unless they have been selling out every game even before the DPs, the fanbase in the area should be able to sell out the stadium with no problems. How often does/did that happen?

          • Scott A says:

            So, the fans are bad because they should have been constantly selling out the stadium with the great team they had? But the team is terrible and will be overrun? You can’t have it both ways.

      • Joamiq says:

        A hideous stadium? Thanks for letting me know you’re not someone to be taken seriously

    • VADCUfan says:

      +100

  7. Ilan says:

    They love sucking NY’s d!ck huh?

  8. Good Jeremy says:

    “You can’t be a dominant soccer league without having a dominant team in the largest and most important city in the world.”

    Someone had better tell Spain, Germany, Brazil, England, and Italy to move a team to Shanghai!

  9. Beto says:

    Il say that this is going to be a fierce rivalry! And hopefully a must visit stadium

  10. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    There’s only one reason Beckham came to L.A. instead of New York or any other MLS city. Tim Leiweke, the Galaxy’s CEO, had a strong working relationship with 19 Entertainment’s Simon Fuller (who manages Beckham) based on promoting concerts. Leiweke and Fuller talked about this way loooong before Beckham signed. That partnership in Beckham wearing a Galaxy uniform. If Red Bull’s upper management had such a relationship w/Fuller, Beckham would have been in New York.

    • Brandon says:

      Ummm…shoulda, woulda, coulda. The point is that he didn’t turn up there, did he? One thing about New Yorkers…I mean REAL New Yorkers…is that they don’t rationalize coming in second best. But points for knowing your history.

  11. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    That should be “resulted in Beckham wearing a Galaxy uniform.”

  12. Josh D says:

    MLS will never be one of the top leagues in the world until other leagues around us develop and thus our version of the Champions League improves. There just isn’t enough competition to keep truly world class players in their prime.

    Sure our league is “balanced” but that masks the fact the average MLS team still isn’t at a high enough standard to attract players. There will always be top clubs with money. What differentiates the top leagues is the fact they have quality up and down the table who can draw top tier talent.

    I’m glad we are striving for the best. But Garber has to open the purse string by a factor of 10 before that happens.

    • Gus says:

      Other CONCACAF teams/countries are getting better.

      There is a huge drop-off from the super clubs in the EPL (4-5 Teams) and La Liga (2 Teams). The quality is way at the top of those leagues, not down to the bottom.

      Also, it is not the standard of a team that attracts players, it is the $…

      • baropbop says:

        One of the best leagues by 2022. Wow. That’s what I’ve been waiting to hear. I think this is attainable. People give europe wayyyy too much credit. Most of the leagues are extremely top heavy and greatly lack in parity.
        I just don’t see how small markets in horrible locations are going to compete as player salaries sky rocket.

  13. Tim F. says:

    Is MLS building the stadium or will the new ownership group build the stadium and have some input into the design? Thank goodness RBNY intervened because they vastly improved the stadium built in Harrison right before they acquired the team.

    • Brandon says:

      Maybe so, but they bankrupted the town and now they can’t get that sad excuse for a Path station fixed up, or improve the death march (under the summer sun) from there to the stadium. If you are 25 that doesn’t matter, but there’s no telling how many people it discourages. Obvious as the nose on your face…but nothing gets done.

  14. Sean says:

    Harrison Red Bulls vs. Queens Park FC!

    This would be awesome and much better than NY Red Bulls vs. NY Cosmos

    • Sean says:

      Or Harrison FC vs Queens FC
      Or Harrison Red Bulls vs Corona Park Rangers
      Or Harrison Metros vs Queens Cosmos

    • THomas says:

      Except most people outside of those places and around the world couldn’t pick Harrison & Queens out on a map. So unless you knew they were both in/near New York you’d have no idea it was a derby match.

      Naming them both New York “something” makes it clear to all and doesn’t narrow their focus to a portion of the biggest market in the country.

  15. Andy says:

    NYRB will be Chivas USA soon enough.

  16. Adam M. says:

    I fully support NYC2 and the Queens location (and judging by the size of the crowd that showed up, so do a lot of others), but this meeting was a lot of pomp and little circumstance. All they need is an owner, a team, city and state approval, final fianancing plans, and detailed construction plans. In other words, all they have now is a hoped for location, a promise to fix up the park, a promise to replace used park space with unidenified new park space, and a very strange promise that sometime in the next 30 years they can add 10k more seats to a stadium they don’t even have approval to build yet. I have little doubt that this will all come together, but there wasn’t a whole lot of real news out of this event.

  17. Jeff23 says:

    What I like about all this is that only by reading the comments I can see that there is already a rivalry between NYRB and Queens.

  18. Ben says:

    I’m a NYRB fan, but if they continue to be a vacuum, I will consider switching my fanationality.

  19. Pingback: Bull's Eye View: Maybe Garber is right (on NY2 at least) » Empire of Soccer - New York Red Bulls, New York Cosmos, NY2, MLS, USMNT, and World Soccer