MLS insisting on Queens parkland because building elsewhere would be too pricey

Thank god for Twitter, or else I would have missed this tidbit buried in Dana Rubinstein’s Capital New York article on possible alternative sites for a Queens MLS stadium:

[Pratt Institute planning center chair John] Shapiro had another idea, too: why doesn’t Major League Soccer consider building a stadium on an M.T.A.-controlled site south of Roosevelt Avenue and east of the walkway that takes pedestrians from the subway to the park, on what is now a bus depot?…

According to the M.T.A., the authority actually suggested to M.L.S. that it consider building its stadium there, but M.L.S. wasn’t interested.

According to M.L.S., a railyard platform would be prohibitively expensive, costing more than $100 million.

(If the league built in the park, it would be on the hook for the cost of converting an equal amount of land elsewhere in the city into useable parkland. M.L.S. is assuming that the cost of doing that would be far less than that prohibitive $100 million.)

So basically, MLS wants to build in a park because it’d be cheaper, and it’d be cheaper because they wouldn’t have to pay rent or property taxes. One obvious solution: If Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants a stadium built without infuriating Queens residents who are tired of seeing their park carved up like swiss cheese, he could tell MLS that it can have its property tax breaks and rent-free land, but only if it accepts a site that’s not currently public parkland. Assuming, that is, that’s what the mayor really wants.


5 comments on “MLS insisting on Queens parkland because building elsewhere would be too pricey

  1. I’m sure MLS wants to spend as little of their own money as they can while spending as much of everyone else’s… but that doesn’t amount to justification for Queens (or any other borough) residents surrendering parkland to please them. I note they aren’t trying to build in Central Park, for example.

    IF they had to pay the full cost of replacing that parkland with contiguous space, I bet they’d find the idea of a platform (in Queens, LIC or on the West Side in Manhattan) much more appealling.

    I really think they have missed the obvious on this one. Yes, building in Manhattan will be difficult and very expensive. But then, you’ve got a 20-25k seater in Manhattan…

    From an entertainment dollar POV, it’s the better play by far. They will probably make more money off non-soccer events in Manhattan than they would off their “primary” tenant. I doubt that would be the case in Flushing, LIC or anywhere else in the five boroughs.

    While some of it’s teams are still struggling (and look more like NASL clubs than MLS), the fact is MLS is relatively flush with cash from internationals and SUM (their marketing arm). They should think big. If you are going to the big city, do it right. Does that seem obvious to anyone else or is it just me?

    I can’t help but wonder if RBNY isn’t discouraging (or somehow preventing) the 20th team from setting up shop in Manhattan? Maybe they’ll only consent to a team on Long Island?

  2. MLS wanted Willets Point or the parkland / Parking lot next to Citi Field but the city and the mets already have plans for those. Again the bird fountain was suggested to them, but that MTA deal needs to be studied some more. At the end of the day even if MLS does go elsewhere the mets and tennis will still grab more parkland for 2 sports the current residents dont play or care about and that land will not be replaced or current feilds improved.

  3. Actually, my idea is a little more complicated.

    1) Build a garage for the MTA buses. The garage is cheaper than the platform. It also gets the buses out of the floodplain — something that the MTA should do anyway.
    2) Build the stadium at ground level. Stadia are easily dry-proofed (or as it used to be called, flood-proofed).
    3) This way, shared parking (with the tennis and baseball stadia) works, without need for a shuttle bus. That saves money.
    4) The new stadium is closer to transit and parking, which helps attendance.
    5) People can look down into the stadium from the bridge connecting the transit stops, which is good for promoting excitement and advertising the venue.
    6) In effect, the Flushing Meadow is enlarged as a recreational destination, without loss of Flushing Meadow as a neighborhood park.

    I have no problem with public support (money, land, effort) for stadia; just like I have no problem with public support for museums, theaters, etc. And the current site may be good. But I strongly suspect that more creative (if more complex) ideas may be great.

  4. “I have no problem with public support (money, land, effort) for stadia; just like I have no problem with public support for museums, theaters, etc.”

    No need for public support of facilities for highly-profitable enterprises that will build facilities regardless, as opposed to those things that are deemed to serve some public good and may not exist without public support.

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