Nine NYC mayoral candidates take Fifth on Queens MLS stadium

Now here’s a headline after my own heart:

Mayoral candidates on an M.L.S. stadium in Queens: Meh

The full story, as related by Dana Rubinstein of Capital New York, is almost as delicious: Mayoral forum moderator Brian Lehrer asked all nine candidates present if any of them were “solidly for the stadium.” Nobody raised their hands. Then he asked who was “solidly against the stadium.” Again, no hands.

Finally, Lehrer asked comptroller John Liu to explain his “ambivalence” on the project, at which point Liu actually gave a somewhat commital answer:

“When they talk about alienating parkland for a stadium, they always make promises of making sure that the parkland is restored in another different park in the borough or in the city,” said Liu. “Unfortunately, under this administration, we have seen a couple of other stadiums that have been built, and the parks facilities and spaces not being made available until the public, until a huge amount of public pressure was put to bear on the administration. So, there’s a credibility factor here. And I certainly, in the case of the Major League Soccer stadium that’s being proposed, and I do believe the administration is pushing behind the scenes, I do not think overall it’s a good idea because they haven’t shown us exactly where they want to restore the parkland.”

So Liu still isn’t strongly against or in favor of it, he’s just concerned because he doesn’t know what the final deal might look like. Which is a reasonable enough position, but when nine candidates all take it regarding a major development project in the works, you have to wonder whether there might be something else going on here as well.

2 comments on “Nine NYC mayoral candidates take Fifth on Queens MLS stadium

  1. I predict that if the Seattle NBA arena proposal goes through, that the MLS Sounders will be next demanding a soccer specific stadium. Then we have the Mariners lease ending in 2017. The Sounders would demand their stadium in the interim between the demanded NBA arena, and the probable demands of the Mariners for public funds to upgrade the Mariners stadium.

    Anyway, NYC seems to be too stadiummy.

  2. My gut feeling is there will be some horse trading involved, but like with the Kingsbridge Armory, there will be some kind of deal to get both the Soccer Stadium construction and USTA Tennis Center expansion completed. I suspect that it will include some kind of “Community Benefits Agreement” (CBA), and something involving parks and open spaces. I am willing to bet the priority for The City is the Tennis Center of how much revenue ( such as tourist’s dollars), it brings in), and they will not risk losing it (despite the decrease in the interest in tennis nationwide). From the perspective of the USTA and MLS, there is no better time than now to get this locked in (because of the combination of low interest rates (very important when it comes to financing the projects), and a business friendly Mayor), instead of risking higher rates and (or) a more hostile City Government, either of which could stop these projects cold.