Bronx activists say NYC F.C. should let local kids use city-funded soccer stadium

Speaking of deciding what to demand in exchange for support for a project, local activists who’ve raised concerns about the proposed $350 million NYC F.C. Bronx soccer stadium have started to drop hints at what they’ll be looking to get out of the deal:

Killian Jordan, who actively protested [the New York Yankees‘ new stadium] … hopes for a better deal this time around, and is looking at the nearby Kingsbridge Armory deal for inspiration. In that deal, approved this month by the City Council, the developers of what will be the world’s largest ice rink center agreed to a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in which they promised to hire locally, provide a 50,000-square-foot community space and fund local skating lessons.

Allowing locals inside the stadium on non-game days may prove crucial in winning community support. [161th Street Business Improvement District director Cary] Goodman suggested an indoor fitness center as something locals could rally around.

“If they are going to build this stadium, they should let our kids in,” Jordan said. “They need to open it up so the people here can set foot in it.”

The Kingsbridge Armory CBA was hammered out after years of squabbles with community leaders and Bronx elected officials, and includes provisions on living-wage jobs, community use of the space, and other concessions to benefit the Kingsbridge neighborhood. Something similar could certainly be required for a Bronx soccer stadium — though it wouldn’t address new mayor Bill de Blasio’s expressed concerns about the project, which is all the city tax and rent breaks it would receive (possibly as much as $150-200 million, according to my back-of-the-envelope guesstimate).

Of course, it’s not clear yet what any eventual community coalition will look like, or whether Jordan and Goodman would end up the main residents who city officials would be seeking to placate with a CBA. Or whether city officials are even going to be the placators and not the placatees, once de Blasio takes office. It’s still very early in the game here, and people are still jockeying for position — but remember that especially in the Bronx, setting your payoff price is the name of the game.

4 comments on “Bronx activists say NYC F.C. should let local kids use city-funded soccer stadium

  1. Neil, if the Engineering & Architecture work (fitting the Stadium into a small space). I think this is going to go through. The idea of getting rid of unproductive Parking Lots (as opposed to Parks), to build something useful is a good one. In addition, being from New York, you know that at least in the beginning, the word NO from locals is usually more likely then hedging bets (let alone a firm YES), and I am not hearing a bunch of NO voices (at least yet), and you also know that large scale projects like Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street could have been blocked by De Blasio if he so desired (and of course, he did not). I also think that this is a test case for De Blasio when it comes to MSG. If he really wants Cablevision to believe he will make them move the Garden, he has to show that he will not say no to a sports construction project (particularly if the price is not high), otherwise, they will wait him out.

  2. Given the comments today from de Blasio’s pick for deputy mayor for economic development, it sounds like “projects in the outer boroughs that promise local jobs” are going to the head of the line:

    Still hard to say how this will play out, though. If the local community groups that are organizing make tough demands, and Yankees president Randy Levine (who’s running the negotiations for NYCFC) balks, will de Blasio take sides? He’s going to have an interesting first month in office…

  3. Neil, I read the same comment about the “projects in the outer boroughs” and local jobs, but even under 2013 Bloomberg New York got plenty of that (Willets Point, Kingsbridge Ice Center & the Staten Island Wheel come to mind). I also do think that if people get too demanding (see Cabrera on Kingsbridge),or Levine is too tough, then there will have to be a slap down, on one side or another. De Blasio will have to take sides (leaders regardless of political beliefs must do that), otherwise Special Interest Groups, NIMBY’s, Municipal Unions and the like will see him as Dinkins II or worse, Jean Quan in Oakland, and start to walk over him. I certainly was not a supporter of his, but I felt he would be stronger than Quinn (who would get steamrolled by those forces). This might be an interesting test, I think Bloomberg was smart by putting this on the table early in his Administration front and center