When the fledgling New York City F.C. announced plans to start up in New York without having a stadium deal in place in Queens, it seemed like the city might have dodged a bullet by not having to commit to free land and tax breaks before getting a franchise. Except that I forgot that New York City is full of local politicians who will start bidding wars against each other, namely the five borough presidents — and Bronx beep (yes, that’s what they call them here) Ruben Diaz has fired the first shot:
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has stepped up, issuing a letter to MLS commissioner Don Garber urging the league to consider his borough instead.
Diaz expressed his desire to “cement the new reputation of the Bronx as a sports mecca”, and cited the recent Spain/Ireland friendly at Yankee stadium as drawing fans from all over the area. He also didn’t hesitate to put the boots to the reaction to the Queens plan, bluntly stating “It would appear that there is little enthusiasm for world class soccer in Queens.” Ooh, borough fight! (Here’s a PDF of the letter.)
There’s a long tradition of this kind of home borough boosterism, from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz leading the charge for a Brooklyn Nets arena to Diaz’s predecessor, Adolfo Carrion, doing so for the Yankees. (Even Carrion’s predecessor, Fernando Ferrer, lobbied for spending city money on the Yankees, though at least there it was for a more modest renovation of the old Yankee Stadium, not the multi-billion-dollar park-destroying megalith that eventually resulted.) It’s more unusual for borough presidents to try to poach each other’s businesses, though Diaz has been an early adopter there as well.
In any event, borough presidents control minimal budgets and have even less in the way of political power, so there isn’t much that Diaz can do other than write obsequious open letters. But even if all it does is give Yankees/NYCFC power broker Randy Levine a public official to carry his water, it’s worth watching. Surely the Bronx has to have another public park somewhere that it’s not using, much…
(And this just in: Queens state assemblymember Francisco Moya has bet Diaz a plate of empanadas that NYCFC will end up in Queens! Man, this is going to be the lamest interborough war ever.)