NYCFC considering Aqueduct racetrack as stadium site, says some guy

Still getting nowhere on talks for a new soccer stadium in the Bronx, NYC F.C. is now reportedly looking to a site near Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, according to Capital New York:

Sources told Capital the club is now looking to develop the site near the racetrack because there is an abundance of land primed for development.

“They want to bring World Cup soccer into Queens because the deal in the Bronx fell through,” the source said.

Ah, the old “sources close to the negotiations.” This could be either someone with the team (or the city) intentionally trying to leak information as a trial balloon, or someone who just likes to gossip and may or may not know what’s going on — hard to say, really, without more information. Nobody in journalism even bothers to read those ethics guidelines, do they?

In case the idea of a pro soccer stadium at a New York racetrack sounds familiar to you, that was a different soccer team with a different racetrack. Aqueduct at least has the benefit of being within city limits (barely — it’s way out by JFK airport); the land in question was previously proposed as the site of a convention center funded by a giant casino, until everybody realized what a terrible idea that was. (There’s currently a smaller “racino” at Aqueduct, which is only a terrible idea for certain people.)

No details about how an Aqueduct stadium would be funded, of course, or whether NYC F.C. would pay for the land (there are parcels there owned by both the city and state) or property taxes on a stadium, because unnamed sources don’t have to answer questions, see? There would also likely have to be transit upgrades to make a soccer stadium workable — of the two nearby subway stations, one only has a northboard platform so forces riders to go past the stop then doubling back, and the other requires a transfer to a shuttle bus. So there’s a lot still to be answered here, once somebody starts asking questions of people with actual names and faces.

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30 comments on “NYCFC considering Aqueduct racetrack as stadium site, says some guy

  1. World Cup Soccer requires at least a capacity of 40,000. Way too large for a MLS team at this time. Even the Sounders only draw 31,000 on average. If the World Cup comes to NYC it’ll be in the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

  2. Yeah, that’s a good point. Sounds like the unnamed source doesn’t really know soccer, then, which means it’s probably someone with the city.

  3. Hello Neil. No, this leak I guarantee you is coming from the league. You see, the NY Cosmos have made a fully funded bid to build a 25,000 seat soccer stadium at Belmont Park. MLS is obsessed with the Cosmos because they are doing what they are doing outside of the business of MLS and are threatened by it. So they make announcement and leak “information” whenever they think the Cosmos are getting close to something successful.

    And ps, Seattle is averaging 44,000 per game this year. Trust me, this leak is coming from the league.

  4. They’re both in Eastern Queens, they are 6 miles away from eachother. You don’t think the possibility of a soccer stadium at Aqueduct, 6 miles away, would discourage the building of a soccer stadium at Belmont?

  5. I have a hard time imagining that they actually feel threatened by a team averaging less than 5K per game.

  6. Read between the lines here. The article says:

    “The tenant is in one of the old buildings in the area that they needed to vacate, they had agreed on a price, then he changed his mind and the deal fell through,” the source said.

    NYCFC has no intention of building near Aqueduct. They are just using this as a ploy to move the Bronx negotiations along. “See – we have other options!”

    Also, FOS readers can go easy on this one, because it appears that the stadium will be privately financed. I would be surprised if the Sheik get any tax breaks.

  7. Belmont park straddles Queens and Nassau. The proposed stadium would be partially in Queens.

    The point isn’t the Cosmos attendance today. The point is that the Cosmos turned down MLS and will seek to challenge the status quo of league ownership of teams and its silly rules when more ducks fall in a row. There is plenty of money behind the Cosmos, and MLS knows it. That’s the issue, not how many people come to hofstra today.

    Plus look out for the anti-trust suit that’s coming against USSF and MLS.

  8. A little teeny, tiny part of belmont park extends into queens; the entire racetrack, though, is nassau. While it a new stadium there might straddle the border (not exactly sure what the configuration of that would be, it doesn’t put it any closer to a possible facility at aqueduct.

    Also: didn’t the MLS put the nix on the cosmos, not the other way around? If I were the MLS, I would feel less threatened by the cosmos (a team with enormous financial backing playing in a AA league) than figure that if we needed them to add to the coffers we could always through them a franchise with an unreasonable expansion fee.

    I do like the concept that all proposed MLS facilities be located on or near the grounds of racetracks. Better yet, just but the soccer pitch on the infield. Would that extend to NASCAR as well? That might make for some fun saturday nights…

  9. At this point, Cosmos fans should be referred to as “Soccer Truthers.” They believe MLS is out to get the team, that MLS is actually threatened by a second tier team in Long Island, averaging 5,000 a game, that an old legacy brand from a famously failed soccer league has any significant with the public to the point they’ll ignore top division soccer, and that the Cosmos could make any significant revenue with their current support level and TV deals, and will somehow upend MLS’s business single-handedly.

  10. David Gratt, it’s Neill that made the distinction between queens and nassau, not me. You’re right, it does not change the fact of the distance, which if you mapquest it is 7 miles down Linden Boulevard. The idea that one soccer stadium at aqueduct wouldn’t have an effect on whether another at belmont would get build, or vice versa, strikes me as kind of far-fetched, given the proximity. But yes, the configuration would put a portion of the western stand in Queens county.

    As for the Cosmos, I’m not here to argue about that. Suffice it to say that since there is no promotion and relegation, there is no justification for calling any professional league first and second level. That will be the subject of a lawsuit, I suspect, in the not distant future if the USSF does not rectify it. It is just a fact that the Cosmos turned down MLS because it did not want to give up 51% of its property to split among Columbus Crew and the rest. Since then, MLS has declared war. It is doing everything in its power to squash the NASL.

    The Cosmos name can’t challenge MLS alone for sure. But take away MLS’s claim to first division status, which is within the power of NASL and its lawyers, and get a stadium deal, and they will have an impact on the game here, and for the better.

  11. I’d suggest that pretty much every news item (on tv, in print, you name it) should be required by law to start with the phrase “some guy says”.

    Watch your local or national news. Journalists never question their guests except to help them make their (often questionable) points. That is not what reporters are supposed to do… unless they are actually working for PR firms paid by their guest’s companies.

    It doesn’t matter whether the topic is international relations, the apparently endless war on “terrr”, how pensions and benefits paid to workers are killing America, how $100m bonuses paid to executives who bankrupted their own companies are good for America, you name it….

    “Some guy says….”

  12. @David, @Leo – There are two separate events between the Cosmos and MLS on when the wanted to join. The first time around was when the MLS was forming and the powers that be wanted to name what became the Metros the Cosmos, but the owner of the licensing rights at the time wouldn’t part at the prices the MLS was looking for with the name and sell it to the league (it should be noted that there was no team actually playing). The second time was recently when the refounded team couldn’t come to an agreement with the MLS because the ownership didn’t want to enter the Single-Ownership model that the MLS uses (they wanted to own their team outright). When the bid for the NYC team came up that was won by NYCFC, the team was just outbid by the Yankees and Man City.

    In both cases it was closer to the Cosmos rejecting the MLS, but only slightly. They basically couldn’t come to an agreement so they decided not to join up. I don’t know how that is grounds to win a suit though. Unless they can prove that the MLS is directly interfering in their operation or hurting the NASL in general, but that will really, really be a tough climb. Their main complaint is that they wouldn’t structure the league that way, but I have no idea on how they’d get damages out of that.

  13. Leo:

    USSF has the responsibility to decide which leagues rank “where” on the American soccer ladder/pyramid. Someone may sue someone over NASL’s second tier status, but it is unlikely to get any traction. In fact, part of FIFA’s requirement for member nations is that football matters are resolved outside the national court system (and within FIFAs).

    Yes, it’s a cozy arrangement and one not only ripe for corruption but absolutely full of same. Nonetheless, that’s where the matter lies.

    On what grounds would the Cosmos file suit against USSF? Because they choose to rank a league which has no tv contract to speak of, averages less than 5k/gm attendance as beneath a league in which franchises change hands for $100m or so?

    What does an expansion NASL franchise cost? I bet it’s less than $5m… probably much much less.

    You may be right about the MLS/Cosmos war being on, I don’t know. But one franchise does not make a league – especially one that is trading far more on it’s past than present. I hope the Cosmos eventually grow to rival their namesakes… but I doubt that can happen in today’s soccer landscape in the US. The original Cosmos toiled in virtual anonymity for years until Steve Ross bought them. It was his/Warner communications money that drove them to the point we all remember… and we should remember that that ‘heyday’ lasted less than a decade.

  14. @Leo – “But take away MLS’s claim to first division status”?

    How would this work exactly? US Soccer decided the tiers by however method they want. Also if the court tried to force the issue FIFA would suspend US Soccer and ban the US from the World Cup and other International events.

  15. The Sounders averaged 2500 people before joining MLS. Also the NFL union sued MLS in late 90s based on anti trust arguments and lost. This was done to try and put league out of of business before it could become successful. They also sued the NASL.

  16. Also, if Cosmos are successful it would just be matter of time before MLS figured on way to bring them in. Garber is too smart not to bring in a successful team in that market.

  17. As for NYCFC, rumors are they’ve sold 25k season tickets. The trend is down when it comes to stadium capacity. The problem they have is a mayor who hates corporate welfare except for the NBA when stealing land from the people.

  18. Even though NYCFC will pay 100% of building the place most cities provide infrastructure for new business. This mayor won’t. Also team probably want land at discount, don’t think that will happen with this hypocrite mayor.

  19. Jmauro – you are correct on everything except this, you first say that the Cosmos and MLS couldn’t agree on single entity. True. But then how can you say they were “outbid” by NYCFC. Cosmos didn’t bid because they didn’t want to be in a single entity league.

    Steven, the 25,000 season ticket rumor is already debunked. They have 3,000 deposits for season tickets. In addition, the Sheik was looking for government handouts for the bronx stadium, look up the articles in the Daily News from last December.

    On anti-trust, the Cosmos aren’t suing. the last anti-trust suit was a labor based suit, and it did lose. This would be an anti-competition anti trust suit. These conversations have already begun between NASL and Sunil. under threat of lawsuit. Ask around, you’ll find out.

    No, the USSF cannot decide the tiers based on “whatever they want”. And despite FIFA’s best efforts, their laws cannot trump the sovereignty of the United States of America. If there is no promotion and relegation, then what is the claim to first division status. I acknowledge that the NASL is not as good as MLS (though I would argue that Minnesota, San Antonio and the Cosmos are better than half of the MLS teams, but I digress) but what if a number of major investors came in and built mega teams? Would it still be “second division”?

    At any rate, getting back to the story at hand, indeed, this is a “some guy said” type story. It’s easy as hell, and something the MLS front office routinely does. There is no there there to this story.

  20. If by handouts you refer to infrastructure and discounted land , that’s no secret. However know the the Yankees are part owners I wouldn’t be surprised if they want a 100% funded stadium. After all isn’t that the way things are in America.

  21. “…No, the USSF cannot decide the tiers based on “whatever they want”. And despite FIFA’s best efforts, their laws cannot trump the sovereignty of the United States of America…”

    They not only can, they do. On both counts. As stated above, nothing prevents any citizen with standing from filing a suit against MLS or FIFA or USSF. That is not the same thing as winning such an action.

  22. @John – Actually you have to sue FIFA in Switzerland where they are based to force a change in the rules. They don’t actually exist as an entity in the US as their representative is the USSF. There is no Sherman Trust Act equivalent in Swiss law, though I still fail to see how it would apply if the NASL sued the MLS in US Court, so it’s a really, really tough climb if you want to get FIFA to change it’s rules for deciding what is the top tier. The last country that had a league that even tried to challenge FIFA on this was in Indonesia, and FIFA just put the ban-hammer on the entire country until the other league backed down.

    @Leo – Do you have a link or something that explains this theory? I cannot find anything anywhere that provides a legal theory on how this would work, other than comments that the NASL group and owners is just kind of out of luck unless the MLS implodes.

  23. Sorry jmauro, this is all private information based on private conversations with people close to the matter. There is no link. If the USSF and MLS conspire to create a first division of soccer in which only MLS teams are allowed in it, there is an anti-trust issue.

  24. The way I see it MLS did all the hard work and took all the risk. They did what nobody thought possible. They deserve the glory. If your late to the party don’t try and bully your way in.

  25. Leo, can you tell us why you would be in a position to seemingly be the only person on the internet privy to these rumors? Coincidentally, I happen to have firsthand knowledge that the Cosmos plan to have Pele suit up for them next season after his Subway contract runs out.

    The Cosmos had their chance at MLS, but declined because they didn’t want to follow the business model. There’s no way MLS could have given the Cosmos special treatment and have that slide with the rest of the owners.

  26. Leo, can you tell us why you would be in a position to seemingly be the only person on the internet privy to these rumors? Coincidentally, I happen to have firsthand knowledge that the Cosmos plan to have Pele suit up for them next season after his Subway contract runs out.

    The Cosmos had their chance at MLS, but declined because they didn’t want to follow the business model. There’s no way MLS could have given the Cosmos special treatment and have that slide with the rest of the owners.

    NASL could conceivably start their own top tier league independent of MLS, but USSF and FIFA wouldn’t be obligated to sanction them.

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