Ever since MLS announced it was granting an expansion franchise to New York City without waiting for a stadium deal to be finalized for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, there have been rampant rumors that the Queens stadium site was, in fact, all but dead. And now one Queens city councilmember, albeit not the one with primary oversight of the park, has come out and said it in no uncertain terms:
Major League Soccer — which was in talks with the city to build a $340 million stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, — won’t be coming to Queens, said a local politician.
“The location doesn’t work,” said City Councilman and Queens Borough President candidate Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who chairs the Council’s Land Use Committee. “There was no real benefit for Queens residents to site it in that location.”
That’s not definitive, but it is very significant that a non-boat-rocking councilmember like Comrie feels free to declare the Queens site dead, something he’d almost certainly never do if talks were still ongoing over the site, even if he is desperately trying to get attention for his campaign for Queens borough president.
So where will the newly formed NYC F.C. play instead? Almost certainly the new Yankee Stadium at first, but Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz is already lining up (can one person line up?) to throw more land (can you throw land, or only dirt?) in soccer’s direction (can you throw things at an entire sport — oh, never mind):
Comrie, who said he opposes putting the stadium in the park, pointed out there is land available near Yankee Stadium.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said the site makes sense and will meet with soccer officials later this month to urge them to build a new stadium in the Bronx.
“It’s my understanding, that for whatever reason, they’ve walked away from the conversations they were having in Queens,” said Diaz Jr, noting the area has “an abundance of land.”
That abundance of land would be at … well, actually, it’s pretty hard to see a large swath of unused space anywhere near Yankee Stadium, at least not if you don’t want to take even more parkland after the Yankees just sidelined local school athletic teams for the better part of six years while their stadium was built. Diaz’s communications director John DeSio says that Diaz was referencing the site of the parking garages south of the old Yankee Stadium site; to piece those together to fit a soccer stadium, though, you’d need to close down 153rd Street, and I’m still not completely sure a stadium would fit. Here are the new and old sites via Google Maps, at the same scale:
DeSio says the Bronx Borough President’s office is still in the process of reaching out to NYC F.C. to set up meetings to discuss a potential Bronx soccer stadium, so it seems clear we’re still in the very early stages of all this. Don’t be at all surprised if this ends up taking a D.C. United-esque glide path, with every site under the sun under consideration over the next few years. Though at least NYC F.C. won’t be able to complain that they’re stuck in an antiquated facility in the meantime.