Garber: MLS talks with Queens “at finish line,” otherwise known as starting gate

Lesson #367 in why it’s important to read the whole article, not just the headline: MLS commissioner Don Garber gave his state-of-the-league press conference yesterday in advance of Saturday’s MLS Cup, and declared that discussions with New York City over a new stadium in Queens are “at the finish line.” And what exactly did he mean by that?

“There’s a lot of work that needs to happen to finalize our agreement with New York City over our use of the land and our ability to lease that land to build a stadium,” he said. “I do believe that we will resolve that shortly. I can’t put any timetable on that, but we are at the finish line. Once we are there, we’ve got to go into a formal approval process that all developers have to go through in New York City. That will take some time. We need to reach an agreement with the city, with the local community and with the state of New York on replacing the land that we will be utilizing for the stadium.”

In addition, MLS is negotiating with the Mets to use the parking lots adjacent to Citi Field.

So basically, MLS thinks that it will soon arrive at an agreement with City Hall on a stadium proposal, which will then proceed through the ULURP process, which will involve nine months of public hearings before any deal can be finalized. So while getting Mayor Michael Bloomberg on board is an important step, it’s also arguably the easiest one, and a lot could still happen, especially in a year where city council speaker Christine Quinn is going to be involved in a tight race to replace Bloomberg as mayor.

Garber, meanwhile, went on to discuss possible expansion teams in Atlanta (“If [a new Falcons stadium] is able to come together, [we'll] try to figure out how an MLS team could be part of their plans”) and Orlando (“at some point if they are able to finalize a stadium plan that makes sense, we would be very interested in working with them”), as well as stadium campaigns for D.C. United (“I believe there is new momentum in D.C.”) and the New England Revolution (“though there is nothing new to report, the family is focused on it”). So basically, every current or potential team wants a new soccer-only stadium to play in, and damned if he’s going to say anything negative about any of them.

As for who’d pay for them, Garber said of New England that “we are looking for public support up in that area because of the cost of developing a project there,” while saying that D.C. United’s owners have “the capacity to be able to put more private equity into a deal, and that makes the opportunity far more viable during these economic times than perhaps it would have been when [the team] was looking for an enormous amount of public support.” You can read something into that if you’d like, but it mostly just comes down to “We’re looking for as much public cash as we can get our hands on, but we realize we’re MLS and can’t throw our weight around as much as some leagues,” which has pretty much been his modus operandi all along.

So really, not much new here at all. We now return you to your regularly scheduled David Beckham wild rumors, already in progress.

Orlando and Revere, Massachusetts both vaguely talking about how cool soccer stadiums would be

It’s been six whole weeks since I reported on somebody wanting to build a new soccer stadium, so let’s remedy that with reports of two people wanting to build new soccer stadiums:

  • “There is growing consensus among local leaders that the Orlando City Soccer Club needs its own stadium, and that Orlando and Orange County could help pay for it,” reports the Orlando Sentinel. It would likely cost $90-95 million, says Orlando City President Phil Rawlins, who added, “I think it’s too early to say exactly where those funds would come from.” (If you have no idea what the Orlando City Soccer Club, it’s a minor-league United Soccer League team, though it could conceivably move up to MLS with a new stadium.)
  • The mayor of Revere, Massachusetts wants to buy the abandoned Wonderland dog racing track and use it for a new soccer-only stadium for the New England Revolution. It’s all part of a tangled mess involving casino licenses and it’s completely unclear who would pay for the stadium if it ever happens, but it’s worth reporting on if only for the Boston Globe’s description of how Wonderland “fell on hard times and closed in 2010, hurt by a state ban on live dog racing.” Understatement, thy name is Boston Globe.