Major League Soccer and the city could hammer out a deal for a $300 million stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park within the next 30 days, MLS officials said.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said he hopes to break ground in 2014 on the privately financed stadium and open it to the public by 2016 or 2017.
“This is a project we have been dreaming about since the league was founded,” Garber said Friday at a briefing for news media. “Our goal is to bring the world’s game to the world’s park.”
The league looked at about 20 sites in the New York City region over the last year before settling on Flushing Meadows, he said.
MLS plans to build the stadium on 10 to 13 acres at the Fountains of Industry site. That’s up from the original 8-acre estimate.
Plans are to build a 25,000-seat stadium, but officials are seeking approval for 35,000 seats to give MLS the option to expand in the future, league officials said. No additional park land would be used in the expansion, officials said.
The league is required to replace the same amount of park land at another site nearby and officials also promised to refurbish soccer fields in the park used by locals.
Alfonso Vargas, president of the Alianza de Ligas Latinas de Futbol, a consortium of 14 soccer leagues that play in the park, said he was particularly excited about the new soccer fields.
“They’ve fallen into a total disrepair. They’re in bad shape,” he said of the fields littered with rocks and glass. “The players can perform a lot better with less accidents” on the new fields.
The stadium is expected to create 2,100 to 2,300 construction jobs and 160 full-time positions and about 750 part-time ones as well, Garber said.
It will also be used as a concert, entertainment and community event venue.
But not everyone was in full support of the plans.
The Fairness Coalition of Queens consists of groups worried about the collective impact of the MLS stadium, U.S. Tennis Association expansion and a proposed new mall at Citi Field. The coalition recently held two meetings where locals voiced their concerns.
Coalition spokesman Theo Oshiro [Deputy Director of Make the Road New York] said the stadium will exacerbate traffic and parking woes and could lead to a loss of park land.
“It’s hard to imagine where in Queens you could fit that amount of park space and where you can find that amount of space that’s as [easily] accessible as Flushing Meadows is,” he said.
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