Garber: MLS talks with Queens “at finish line,” otherwise known as starting gate

Lesson #367 in why it’s important to read the whole article, not just the headline: MLS commissioner Don Garber gave his state-of-the-league press conference yesterday in advance of Saturday’s MLS Cup, and declared that discussions with New York City over a new stadium in Queens are “at the finish line.” And what exactly did he mean by that?

“There’s a lot of work that needs to happen to finalize our agreement with New York City over our use of the land and our ability to lease that land to build a stadium,” he said. “I do believe that we will resolve that shortly. I can’t put any timetable on that, but we are at the finish line. Once we are there, we’ve got to go into a formal approval process that all developers have to go through in New York City. That will take some time. We need to reach an agreement with the city, with the local community and with the state of New York on replacing the land that we will be utilizing for the stadium.”

In addition, MLS is negotiating with the Mets to use the parking lots adjacent to Citi Field.

So basically, MLS thinks that it will soon arrive at an agreement with City Hall on a stadium proposal, which will then proceed through the ULURP process, which will involve nine months of public hearings before any deal can be finalized. So while getting Mayor Michael Bloomberg on board is an important step, it’s also arguably the easiest one, and a lot could still happen, especially in a year where city council speaker Christine Quinn is going to be involved in a tight race to replace Bloomberg as mayor.

Garber, meanwhile, went on to discuss possible expansion teams in Atlanta (“If [a new Falcons stadium] is able to come together, [we'll] try to figure out how an MLS team could be part of their plans”) and Orlando (“at some point if they are able to finalize a stadium plan that makes sense, we would be very interested in working with them”), as well as stadium campaigns for D.C. United (“I believe there is new momentum in D.C.”) and the New England Revolution (“though there is nothing new to report, the family is focused on it”). So basically, every current or potential team wants a new soccer-only stadium to play in, and damned if he’s going to say anything negative about any of them.

As for who’d pay for them, Garber said of New England that “we are looking for public support up in that area because of the cost of developing a project there,” while saying that D.C. United’s owners have “the capacity to be able to put more private equity into a deal, and that makes the opportunity far more viable during these economic times than perhaps it would have been when [the team] was looking for an enormous amount of public support.” You can read something into that if you’d like, but it mostly just comes down to “We’re looking for as much public cash as we can get our hands on, but we realize we’re MLS and can’t throw our weight around as much as some leagues,” which has pretty much been his modus operandi all along.

So really, not much new here at all. We now return you to your regularly scheduled David Beckham wild rumors, already in progress.


2 comments on “Garber: MLS talks with Queens “at finish line,” otherwise known as starting gate

  1. @Ty: Because Garber & Co has requirements for new teams to have a soccer-specific stadium in the works. Also, have you ever watched a soccer game on a baseball diamond? It’s horrible. That Citi Field pic (from, I’m assuming, that Brazil match it hosted the other week) shows a packed house because of the nature of the contents. Having a high-profile team like Brazil’s national team in a diverse town like Queens is a no-brainer to be packed. Real Madrid did the same over the summer at the same venue, as did many other international teams. Try doing that with an MLS team that plays there day in day out, and I’m sure the fans will soon be clamoring for a stadium of their own.

    If there’s a chance at getting their own stadium from the start, then they’ll be going for it, as I think they should. But, obviously, the use of public resources to do so is what’s so asinine about it. If public funds were unavailable and the only viable way was to host games at Citi, then I don’t think anyone would be opposed to it. MLS has done so in the past, but they’ve now got it in their heads that they can build 20K seat stadiums for every team in the league. There’s a bit of disconnect with real wealth and perceived wealth.