In case you’re wondering what’s up with those plans for a $400 million stadium at Long Island’s Belmont Park racetrack for the minor-league New York Cosmos soccer team (which always sounded as crazy as that sentence, yes), they are now officially dead:
Empire State Development Corp. canceled its 4-year-old request for proposals, or RFP, at the site, closing the door on a plan to construct a 25,000-seat stadium on the property.
This may have had something to do with the fact that the Cosmos not only have made zero progress on actually building said stadium, but may be on the verge of folding, with the club furloughing employees and deferring making payroll payments, and the entire NASL possibly on the verge of collapse with several teams either leaving for other leagues or considering shutting down.
If there’s any silver lining here, it’s that all this happened before the state dedicated a huge plot of land to a stadium for a minor-league sports franchise in a league with an uncertain future. Not that those don’t work out sometimes — pretty much every league had an uncertain future at some point, even if you have to go back a couple of centuries to find it — but when those deals go bad, they go spectacularly bad.
There’s been almost zero movement on the New York Cosmos‘ plans for a $400 million minor-league soccer stadium at the Belmont Park racetrack site (I almost wrote “crazy” plans, but I’ll leave that for readers to determine on their own) since it was first floated three years ago, but that isn’t stopping some locals from protesting it anyway:
[Nassau County Legis. Carrié] Solages, surrounded by about a dozen supporters, said the project was conceived without the input of the community, and that New York doesn’t have an appetite for soccer that would fill 25,000 seats. Protesters called on the state to issue a new request for proposals that considers the vision of local residents.
The state has so far held off from asking for new bids on the site, though it’s clearly not happy with the current bids: Not only has it sat on them for three years without taking action, but it released a statement saying it’s “re-engaging” bidders to get a better deal. The dream of the NASL Cosmos getting a better stadium than either of New York’s two MLS teams isn’t quite all dead, in other words, but it is mostly dead. This is going to take a really big set of bellows.
If you’ve been thinking, “Hey, it’s been a long time since Field of Schemes has written about that crazy $400 million New York Cosmos stadium plan,” here, have a Long Island politician complaining about how the crazy thing about it is that it would create too much traffic:
“It’s a bad idea for the region,” said [Nassau County Legislator Carrié] Solages (D-Elmont), who is worried it could create a traffic nightmare for local residents. “Soccer does not have the draw it needs to survive here.”
The Cosmos also got a brief mention in my just-posted interview on The ‘Cast (on YouTube, but it’s audio-only), so go listen to that as well if you like. Though we didn’t really delve into the problem of how to deal with the traffic jams created by nonexistant minor-league soccer fans.
MLS commissioner Don Garber has “set a time limit” on how long New York City has to approve a $300 million soccer stadium in a public park in Queens, or else he’ll take his expansion franchise and go elsewhere, according to the New York Daily News. And what is that time limit exactly?
“If we’re not successful we’ll throw our hands up, and it’ll be far sooner than three years we throw our hands up,” Garber said, after his opening season address.
“Then we’d take a step back and see if there’s another market. Three years is too long. I don’t want to put a year limit on it. But if it’s not making progress, the time will come. There’s a lot of activity in other markets.”
Okay, so not actually a time limit in the sense of having a set time, or a set limit. But he’s not going to wait forever! Because that’s not technically possible.
Meanwhile, the New York Cosmos not-actually-yet-even-a-minor-league-franchise, not to be upstaged by Monday’s leaked Queens MLS stadium renderings that really aren’t, released a whole friggin’ YouTube video of their own plans for a freaky-looking stadium at Belmont Park, complete with a remarkably large number of computer animated people cheering on a second-tier soccer club, plus old footage of Pele. Though if they really wanted attention, they should have gone with an even bolder choice of video producer.
Seamus O’Brien, part-owner of the New York Cosmos, has given an interview to Goal.com about how the team plans on building a $400 million soccer stadium complex on Long Island despite not having an actual team or major league to play in yet. (The new Cosmos are currently slated to begin play in the minor-league NASL next August.) Amid lots of corporate blather about building a strong business and how a new stadium would show they’re serious, there was this:
“Look, Long Island is a hot bed for soccer. There are soccer leagues, tens of thousands of kids are signed up. We’ve always felt that is our heartland.”
Which I guess is a nicer way of saying it than “We’d rather be in New York City, but this site was all we could get.” Except he said that too.
Given all the questions about how an actual MLS team in actual Queens would be able to afford a $300 million stadium there, it’s still hard to take this Cosmos plan seriously as much more than a cry for publicity. But hey, all the other kids are doing it, so why not?
The New York Cosmos, one of the country’s most recognized soccer franchises, has proposed construction of a $400-million privately funded stadium at Belmont Park in Elmont, according to an area state senator.
The plan, submitted Friday in response to a State Economic Development request for proposal, also includes a hotel, restaurants, retail stores and a public park, according to Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola).
That’s all very exciting, except for the fact that 1) this Cosmos is not the old Cosmos, but rather a minor-league franchise that bought the name and which still hasn’t managed to actually field a team after more than two years of trying; 2) it’s pretty unlikely MLS would approve a franchise for Nassau County when it’s already working on a new team for neighboring Queens, and it’s even more unlikely that the Cosmos could afford to build a stadium while playing in the NASL, as SI soccer writer Grant Wahl seems to think is possible; 3) $400 million?!?
What looks to be going on here is that Sen. Martins is heading up a campaign to find some additional development that can be built on a pair of excess parking lots at the race track, so that the state (which owns the track) can make some extra money off it. So the guys who run the Cosmos figured, sure, let’s throw our hat in the ring — at worst, we get our name in the paper, and at best, maybe somebody decides to throw some state money at us for this. First mission accomplished, anyway.