That crazy idea to put a minor-league soccer stadium next to the Mets park is probably just a crazy idea

Back when news broke last month of a possible USL franchise called Queensboro F.C. building (or having built for it, or god knows what) a 25,000-seat minor league soccer stadium next door to the New York Mets‘ ballpark, on a plot of land originally cleared for affordable housing, I promised a more in-depth report. And now my report is up, at Gothamist, and it is way more loopy than even I could have expected:

Queens borough president Melinda Katz — one of the two task force co-chairs — has begun stepping up talk of what could be the least likely endgame of all for Willets Point: a professional soccer stadium that would take up as much as 17 acres of the redevelopment site, to be built with uncertain funds, for a minor-league soccer team called Queensboro F.C. that does not, strictly speaking, exist…

“The city spent approximately $200 million in acquiring these properties. I don’t think they did that to build a soccer stadium,” says Hiram Monserrate, the disgraced former state senator turned district leader who is affiliated with the new coalition Nos Quedamos Queens. (Nos Quedamos Queens, in turn, is unaffiliated with the older Bronx group Nos Quedamos, best known for its successful advocacy for the Melrose Commons project, by all accounts the most effective project in city history at constructing affordable housing without displacing existing residents.) “I’m a soccer fan. But you can’t build a sports coliseum at the expense of meeting the needs of the people, and the people need housing.”

If you can’t get into a story that pits a former city councilperson–turned–borough president–turned district attorney candidate (and also baby mama to Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa) against a city councilperson–turned–state senator–turned–jailbird for misuse of campaign funds–turned–community activist, all over whether to devote public land that was cleared of small businesses at great city expense (said businesses immediately going bankrupt at their new location) to a stadium for a soccer team that doesn’t exist yet or even have an identified owner, then, well, I don’t know why you’re reading this site.

The upshot, for those of you who are in a hurry, seems to be that Katz and her allies are grandstanding on this soccer idea for unknown reasons, but nobody else seems super-psyched about it, so it probably won’t happen. But it could happen, maybe, if the Mets owners want it to happen, which they probably don’t care that much about, but they might. Hopefully I will get a chance to revisit this story, because it exactly the kind of batshit that is incredibly fun to write about, not to mention a great cautionary tale of the dangers of farming out public policy to quasi-public agencies and secret task forces and the like.


8 comments on “That crazy idea to put a minor-league soccer stadium next to the Mets park is probably just a crazy idea

  1. I think you forgot to include a link to the actual Gothamist piece! http://gothamist.com/2019/01/08/queens_willets_point_soccer.php

  2. We’ve discussed it before, but a soccer stadium that converts for lesser US Open tennis matches would be cool, although probably not the best use for that land. (The best use would be for independent auto repair shops, but somehow that got screwed up.)

    • A tennis court is, what, 1/10th the size of a soccer pitch? Even if you curtained off most of the stadium, it’s hard to picture the geometry working well for tennis.

      • You’d just use one end zone. Seating on three sides. It wouldn’t be great, but better than some of the other back courts. Supposedly the US Open is short on courts. But I don’t really care about tennis. I want the damn car shops back.

  3. With Comrie (long) gone couldn’t this be a stalking horse for a stadium for NYCFC? I can see the arguments now – existing team, good* transit options and the land is “free” for this great opportunity for the economic {fill in rest}.

    It really is a shame about those businesses. Many lasted through the 1970s and 1980s only to be taken down by the City when times got “better”.

    • The Mets owners control the land, and they won’t want to do anything to help the Yankees owners who co-own NYCFC, so, uh, no way.

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