Home Queens The MTA and a Flushing Meadows soccer stadium

The MTA and a Flushing Meadows soccer stadium

by Benjamin Kabak

Despite two new baseball stadiums and a basketball arena, New York City’s appetite for sports venues has seemingly not been sated as rumors are swirling of Major League Soccer’s interest in Queens. Looking to expand into New York City proper, the U.S. professional soccer league has its eye on a parcel of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and although these plans have a long way to go, the MTA has a role to play yet.

Stories and support for a Queens soccer stadium have been percolating out of Albany for much of the summer. The story took off earlier this week when Fredric Dicker of The Post ran a piece relying heavily on a few anonymous sources. MLS, he alleged, is nearing a deal for the stadium. The catch is that the city would have to give up at least nine acres of park land in Flushing Meadows, and the MTA would have to sell some of the land it owns near the LIRR tracks and Corona Yard.

According to Dicker’s sources, the $300 million stadium would be entirely privately funded, and already, I am growing skeptical. Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, built a few years ago, cost around $250 million and takes up over 12 acres. It’s a 25,000-seater that is rarely full. Will MLS not require tax breaks as the Yanks and Mets did with their supposedly privately funded stadiums? (The Mets, of course, have raised an entirely different set of issues as the Wilpons are not keen on surrendering parking for any Willets Point developments to a soccer stadium.)

For a full round-up of the political issues surrounding any such stadium, check out Neil deMause’s takedown in The Village Voice. As MLS officials subsequently noted, it could be years before a stadium rises in the park, and talks should be characterized as “exploratory.”

So what’s the MTA’s role in this mess? They own some of the land MLS is eying for the stadium. As two Daily News writers noted yesterday (in a piece in which they sadly called the MTA the “Metropolitan Transit Authority”), city and state officials in Albany will require adequate replacement parkland should the nine acres vanish, and they could call upon the MTA to cede such land. The MTA and local politicians though have a different view of it.

“We’ve got to find land in roughly the same area,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said of the parkland. “There is land on an MTA site, which everybody said, ‘Let’s get that.’ I have not talked to Joe Lhota, and I don’t know how practical it is, and how much Joe needs that land for other things. Before we go spending or taking away Joe Lhota’s land, maybe we should ask him.”

Dana Rubinstein of Capital New York did just that, and Lhota, a fierce defender of his realm, will not give MTA land for nothing. “If we have a piece of property that’s not determined to be used for a future transit need and we own it and it’s available yes, we’re in the business of shedding assets to help us financially,” he said. “And under the law we can sell assets as long as it’s a fair market value.”

For years, we’ve watched a parade of MTA higher-ups sell off authority land for next to nothing. The sweetheart deal the Authority gave Bruce Ratner for his Atlantic Yards development has rankled politicians and Brooklynites for years, and even the Hudson Yards deal had to be further incentivized for the MTA to realize any money. Lhota though seems to get what’s at stake. The MTA isn’t in a position to give up its assets without drawing value for them, and if the time comes to sell some land in Queens for a soccer stadium, the MTA should maximize its revenue. That day though may be a long time coming.

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Guest August 16, 2012 - 12:42 am

Could the MTA asset be the LIRR Rockaway Beach branch?

Frank B. August 16, 2012 - 1:11 am

Likely not. That’s further west. They’re referring to land around Flushing Meadows Corona Park; The Abandoned Rockaway Line is due West of there.

Jeff August 16, 2012 - 10:09 am

I believe the Rockaway line was specifically mentioned in one of the articles.

And its definitely not going to happen.

mwdt August 16, 2012 - 6:21 am

I’m confused. Is the MTA _not_ the Metropolitan Transit Authority?

Chet August 16, 2012 - 8:13 am

It is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Larry Littlefield August 16, 2012 - 7:53 am

I’ll admit the MTA just rebuilt the Corona Yard. But is it absolutely sure it will never, ever need to expand that yard? That it will never, ever need more trains on the line? That despite CBTC, which could allow 40 trains per hour (which was the service level on the Flushing Line at one time), that the MTA will never need enough trains to run that level of service?

These are not the kind of questions politicians tend to ask. Will anyone dare, dare to show the slightest concern about the future, and ask the MTA to demonstrate that it could store enough trainsets for 40 tph without expanding the yard?

Eric F August 16, 2012 - 9:17 am

How about using the Aqueduct site!

al August 16, 2012 - 10:30 am

They could reconfigure the section between 103rd St and Willets Point to allow a greater number of short turn trains to terminate prior to Main St.

Another thing to consider is the length of time at 40tph. Running 90 second headways for 30 minutes during AM rush requires less equipment and is less complicated than for 1 hr or 1.5 hrs.

The Flushing Line managers could also consider when to run trains at 90 second headways. For example, the 8AM class starts at Aviation HS and LaGuardia College create a large demand spike on 7 local in Peak direction. A few additional local trains arriving at 33rd St between 7:45-8:00 AM is in order. The same can be said 8:30-8:45 AM period, as that is prior to another class start point at Aviation, and is when many commuters into Manhattan CBD head to work.

Henry August 17, 2012 - 1:58 am

Why anyone would want to short-turn trains before the 10th-busiest subway station in the system is beyond me. It’s great from an operations standpoint, but if the MTA is going to dump all the people from buses into Main, the least they could do is run more trains there.

al August 17, 2012 - 12:41 pm

They already turn around there. Ever since the Flushing Line went to Main St, 111th St and Willets Point have been Peak Hrs short turn terminals. As long as the demand doesn’t warrant running more trains to Flushing, this will continue.

The Main St track terminal’s 3 tracks and switch layout limits the number of train can depart. This is especially true during PM Peak as inbound local trains have to cross 2 tracks through 2 sets of low speed switches to get to Manhattan bound local tracks.

Andrew August 16, 2012 - 9:25 pm

Where do you get the idea that CBTC will allow 40 tph?

The line never ran 40 tph. The 1954 schedules called for 36 tph, but I find it highly unlikely that that was actually achieved.

I agree that the MTA needs to be very careful about giving up potential yard space, but there’s no need to reserve more space than could possibly be used in practice.

Henry August 17, 2012 - 2:00 am

If I remember correctly, CBTC is based off of the Meteor technology used in Line 14 of the Paris Metro, which does run 40 tph.

That being said, it’s probably a lot more complex to run anything close to 40 tph out of a three track system that bottlenecks into a two track one on its most crowded segment.

Bill Reese August 16, 2012 - 7:53 am

As a fan of the Red Bulls (yes, we all know it’s a terrible name, and a lot of us hope every day that Red Bull sells the club and we can have a proper name), I find it funny that the league would spend $300 million to build a second stadium in the NY Metro area while the 4-time league champions D.C. United play in Washington’s RFK Stadium, whose upper deck was condemned earlier this year.

Al D August 16, 2012 - 9:24 am

Isn’t the team named after the hyper caffeinated drink?

Dizzy August 16, 2012 - 1:08 pm

The problem with getting a DC United stadium built isn’t lack of funds – owner Will Change has always promised to fully fund its construction, and he’s brought in new investors with even more disposable income. The problem is siting/zoning/paying off the right combination of DC politicians.

Chet August 16, 2012 - 8:20 am

If the powers that be were smart, and this has little to do with the MTA, they would proposea stadium similar to London’s Olympic Stadium. A permanent 25,000 seat structure with a proper track, with the ability to add and large, temporary upper bowl with 50,000 additional seats.

Temp seating could be expaned over the track for soccer use as well to bring the fans closer to the action.

Now, we’d have a class one soccer stadiium, but could also hold major track and field events, and with additional construction, the Olympics.

And finally, instaed of grabbing a piece of Flushing Meadows Park, it should be part of the Willets Point redevelopment.

Eric F August 16, 2012 - 9:16 am

I think that’s unnecessary because NYC is literally either (1) never getting an olympics or (2) getting an olympics so far in the future that it would occur when any facility built today would be viewed as obsolete for purposes of an olympics. If NYC held an olympics and wanted to use an existing facility as its signature stadium, it would use Giants Stadium (I’m not using it’s horrid official name), which represents a 1.6 billion dollar investment and seats about 80,000.

Chet August 16, 2012 - 9:51 am

It can’t use Giants Stadium- there is no room for a track.

What was built in London will never be obsolete. Most of the structure is temporary. The entire upper bowl will be dismantled after the Paralympic Games. The will end up with a 25,000 seat soccer stadium that can also be used for track and field.

We can do it in reverse- built the soccer stadium now with the ability to temporarily add 50-55,000 seats.

Yes, it might take years for an Olympics to come here- but truth is, I think it is more a matter of when than if, even if 25, 35, or even 50 years in the future. An Olympic Stadium does not need the luxury suites, etc. that we see in our other stadiums.

Eric F August 16, 2012 - 10:16 am

I didn’t know you couldn’t stick a track in there, interesting. If an olympics is held in 50 years I doubt they’d use anything built 40 years prior. To put it in perspective, 40 years ago was 1972. Giants stadium wasn’t even built yet, and by 2010 it had been built, used to enormous success and was demolished for a replacement. Shea lasted about 50 years and was widely regarded as obsolete by the age of 30.

Henry August 17, 2012 - 2:41 am

Didn’t the ’84 LA Games reuse and refurbish a lot of old venues?

Bolwerk August 16, 2012 - 11:55 am

Actually, word has it is NYC is a leading contender for 2024. Guess that’s the time it’s expected to swing to North America again.

Though hopefully we’ll have enough sense to politely decline.

Roxie August 16, 2012 - 12:18 pm

That’s if we have a mayor who isn’t a money-grubbing billionaire by then.

Bolwerk August 16, 2012 - 1:01 pm

The mayor is supposed to be in the pocket of the richest man in town. He’s not supposed to be the richest man in town.

Chet August 16, 2012 - 12:40 pm

Sort of a contender.

By 2024, it will have been 28 years since the Atlanta games, the last US summer host.

There was a proposal by a candidate for the State Assembly here on Staten Island, that an Olympic Park be built here. The idea was shot down by almost everyone, with the main reason being, unless someone comes up with $30 billion to build a complete passenger rail system here, there’s no real way for people to get here.

I paid a lot of attention to the NYC 2012 bid. Overall, it was well put together. The problems were 1) the west side stadium; and 2) the IOC and USOC were fighting with each other over revenue sharing from royalties to TV rights.

Both of these problems have been solved. There will be no west side stadium, and the money issues were fixed.

The problem for future games is where to house the athletes. An athlete village was to be built along the water front in Long Island City if I remember. That site has been turned over to private development. So another site has to be found for that, that after the games can be converted to regular housing use.

I don’t think it would be bad thing at all to have the games here. They do not cause the traffic nightmares everyone believes, and London proved that. A lot of people choose that time for a vacation, and the regular tourists choose another set of days to visit.

Frank B. August 16, 2012 - 1:03 pm

Yeah, but we did host the winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City back in 2002; that wasn’t so long ago.

Not to nitpick; I like the Summer games better, honestly.

Sharon August 17, 2012 - 11:41 am

Which mitt Romney saved from corruption and overspending. Hope the American people in swing states wake up and boot the snake oil used car salesman obama

VLM August 17, 2012 - 11:43 am

Oh, get off it, troll.

Bolwerk August 18, 2012 - 3:00 pm

I have to ask. Who ties your shoes for you?

Bolwerk August 16, 2012 - 1:04 pm

Certainly no reason why it couldn’t be built for a few billion. Even extending the IRT from Manhattan to SI should be cheaper than Cuomo’s Tappan Zee boner.

Frankly, I imagine we can absurd the traffic with transit, but the Olympics are mostly a waste of money.

Eric F August 16, 2012 - 1:39 pm

I don’t see any local booster akin to Bloomberg pushing for an Olympics. Post-Bloomberg, the City government sinks into a bunch of bickering factions that are not going to unite over anything like that.

Walter August 16, 2012 - 1:52 pm

Some wealthy enterprising citizen will likely take an interest in the next few years, especially if the city decided it wants a huge event to celebrate its 400th birthday in 2024.

Eric F August 16, 2012 - 3:12 pm

Wealthy civic boosters don’t really exist much any more. Wealthy people aren’t interested in projects and redevelopment on a large scale. Bill Gates is sprinkling his fortune on social causes and foreign aid, he’s not endowing a second Lincoln Tunnel or anything like that. The biggest active corporate leaders in the City at the banks and pharma companies are now being propagandized against 24/7. There is no one there to fill the role. Can you imagine Christine Quinn and [fill in name of local tech billionaire] spearheading an Olympic bid? Me neither.

Bolwerk August 18, 2012 - 5:06 pm

I have no idea. The only arguably beneficial thing about the Olympics is some infrastructure investment that can be handy down the road.

But I don’t see why you see Bloomberg as especially transformational. The bickering has gone on unabated at least as long as I’ve been alive.

Al D August 16, 2012 - 2:13 pm

The Broadway Triangle would be a great spot for an Olympic Village:


J M G, each with plenty of capacity

Jeff August 16, 2012 - 10:18 am

“Grabbing a piece of Flushing Meadows Park” is stetching it…

Most of the new stadium is going to be replacing the giant 8-acre pool of stagnant and festering waste that is the Pond of Industry (or whatever they call it)… The pool is basically sitting there adding to the giant stink that is that part of Flushing…

People who don’t frequent the park don’t seem to get why there is so much support for this stadium – that pool is an eyesore and a nosesore that has been ignored for YEARS. Even the surrounding soccer fields (which are being replaced as part of the plan) are rundown weed infested grounds where soccer players play in air that smell like sewage most of the summer.

Finding the 9 acres will be easy – there’s a giant lot at the old nearby Flushing Airport that has been waiting for a viable development plan for almost 30 years and has turned into a illegal dumping ground and was the old breeding ground for West Nile virus during that brief epidemic a decade ago. That place has been waiting for a cleanup and this gives the city an opportunity to do so.

Eric F August 16, 2012 - 10:24 am

Agreed. Flushing Meadows was intended by Robert Moses to be a gem, and the city has never invested enough to make that dream a reality. The park has been improved in spots in recent years, but it still has spots that are laughably decrepit. Adding a soccer-specific 25,000 seater, if done right, would be a plus not a minus for the park. Note that it’s footprint will be a small fraction of the space taken up by the tennis center, which sees full use for about 5% of the year.

AG August 16, 2012 - 6:57 pm

Eric F – everything Robert Moses did he thought would be a gem… certainly not all of them were (and thankfully he was prevented from doing some others). That said – Flushing Meadows is still a wonderful asset – but suffered from underfunding for a long time just like other parks. That was system wide. Keeping parks well funded can be tough. Quite frankly if citizens take better care of public space there would be less degradation of them. I’ve seen parks rehabbed and then in short order destroyed. Sad.

Henry August 17, 2012 - 2:02 am

As a local, I don’t really care or not if it’s a “gem”, but the least they could do is keep the park relatively free of litter.

I’d rather make the trek out to Central Park than go to Corona Park.

AG August 17, 2012 - 5:30 pm

Henry – it’s not really the cities responsibility to keep a park litter free. That’s the corrupt mindset that ppl have nowadays. If persons would simply not litter do they not realize how many man hours could be used for other things? Of course Central Park will receive more maintenance because it’s the most famous park in the world. As a local – you should start a task force to keep Corona Park clean. Park budgets will be one of the first things cut in these tough times. People need to have some love for their own neighborhood. It’s really sad.

pete August 16, 2012 - 10:31 pm

Flushing Airport, cold day in hell. Once developed land becomes a “wetland” it can never be used for anything else again. Thank congress for breeding mosquitos.

Jeff August 17, 2012 - 12:05 am

They can use it again but there is a very high cost… The cost is what’s stopping it, not the environmental aspects. There were plenty of proposals to redevelop it commercially (and they’ve done that for a portion of the site already) but nimby’s turn that down

Henry August 17, 2012 - 1:49 pm

I wouldn’t characterize the NIMBYism as completely unfounded – the area around the airport site is heavily auto-oriented, and in stark contrast to the relatively denser parts of College Point cut off from Flushing and other areas by the highway and the site.

Not all development is good, and I’d say that in this case the NIMBYism is (somewhat) justified. Would you want a giant asphalt parking lot built on your street?

AG August 16, 2012 - 7:37 pm

NYC doesn’t need the Olympics… and Icahn stadium on Randall’s Island is very popular for track & field since it’s been built. Every year it’s hosted the Adidas (formerly Reebok) Grand Prix… and as far as I know it’s been a sellout every year. It’s been televised every year and all the top track athletes compete. Then of course there are the Millrose Games which is the most prestigious indoor event – which just moved from MSG to the 168th St. Armory uptown in Washington Heights. NYC is not starved for top level track & field… but an Olympic stadium would be “overkill”. Besides owning stadiums are not something municipalities should do.. which is why – even though they’ve been given tax breaks (and some complain)… it is MUCH better now the teams actually own the stadiums themselves (Yankees/Mets/Nets – MSG and all it’s teams were already owned by Cablevision) once their financing is paid off. That’s actually why you see more events taking place and scheduled… because the teams need to earn as much income as possible.

Yeah – I actually think the Willets Point idea is good for this particular proposal… but because of all the wrangling that would be too many years away for MLS tastes.

petey August 17, 2012 - 1:41 am

icahn stadium is also used by schools.

god forbid the olympics ever come here. we need them like we need a hole in the head. i have issues with sheldon silver but his ice-cold rejection of the west side stadium isn’t one of them.

AG August 17, 2012 - 5:35 pm

Lol – agreed about Sheldon Silver (that’s probably the only thing I agreed with him on)… and yes I forgot to mention schools.. they also use the Armory.

Eric F August 16, 2012 - 8:30 am

I think you used the word “explanatory” when you meant “exploratory”.

Allow me to pick another nit: “New York City’s appetite for sports venues has seemingly not been sated.”

What does that mean? Would you write that if the plan was to build an opera house or a museum? We have plenty of those too. I’d rather such a facility be built without tax money, but to the extent there’s public demand for watching people play soccer or throw horseshoes or shoot marbles, they can build 100 of these places for all I care.

I like Dicker’s NY Post columns a lot, but no one who has been a sentient being in NY for the past 50 years would ever think that one can go from facility proposal to actual earth turning in NYC on Park’s Department land (!) in just a few months. No way. They can’t even renovate existing facilities on timelines like that. Dinkins’ deal to fix up the tennis center dragged on for what seemed like most of his term in office.

Al D August 16, 2012 - 9:28 am

With the wave of immigrants in Queens, who are just as disposed to futbol maybe moreso than other sports, it’s probably a great idea to have the stadium in their own back yard. But as mentioned by L. Littlefield above, the MTA needs to consider any future expansion/ridership growth the ensure it will have the needed capacity at Corona Yard.

Eric F August 16, 2012 - 10:11 am

This “wave of immigrants” thing is mentioned over and over again in terms of U.S. soccer popularity, and it’s pursuit is more or less akin to that guy chasing the White Whale in Moby Dick. U.S. soccer has become a first tier sport in the US/Canada Pacific Northwest, in the absence of that kind of critical mass. For whatever reason, Major League Soccer has never seemed to appeal much to the Latin American community in NY-NJ. It’s unlikely that MLS is really staking its future on that appeal within Queens.

Jeff August 16, 2012 - 10:21 am

MLS only plays 15 games a year per stadium… There are plenty of opportunities for international friendlies like the one they played yesterday at Citifield. A dedicated soccer stadium in the city would receive a ton of patronage.

Jeff August 16, 2012 - 10:21 am

And I passed by that game yesterday on the 7… It was PACKED.

Eric F August 16, 2012 - 10:27 am

That sort of undercuts it though. The bigger international dates certainly draw around here. Indeed they pretty much always have. Which is why they aren’t going to be played in a 25,000 seater. They will be in Giants stadium or Shea. Brazil sells out Giants Stadium with 80,000 fans as a matter of course. A little place will hold second tier international games at best, and probably adds little to the region over having the current Red Bull Arena.

Jeff August 16, 2012 - 10:37 am

It will appeal more to international teams than a baseball stadium would… Corona is basically a mishmash of various Central and South American countries and every time a team from one of those countries play in CitiField people from those countries show up in droves. So just by having a soccer stadium available for 340 dates a year would be good, even if the capacity is smaller.

Eric F August 16, 2012 - 10:41 am

Although international friendlies are a novelty and having a soccer game in a baseball stadium sort of adds to the novelty. They closed out Shea with Billy Joel concerts, and part of the draw was watching a concert in Shea, which was a rarity. You see that concept play out with soccer games at Fenway, Yankee Stadium, etc. Also, with an open air stadium in the northeast, your soccer window is closer to eight months out of the year than twelve.

Jeff August 16, 2012 - 10:54 am

I agree that there’s a novelty factor but I disagree that it has much bearing on the attendees of the Citifield matches… I think those guys just want to see their countrymen play in a soccer game… Its not like they have much chance to do so otherwise.

AG August 16, 2012 - 7:26 pm

Jeff – that is true – but the venue does have a bearing on where the teams play. For instance – last week AC Milan and Real Madrid set a record “soccer” attendance for Yankee stadium (including the old stadiums)… It was billed as the top 2 winningest European Cup teams in history playing in the most famous stadium in the US… Those 2 teams wouldn’t play at Red Bull Arena – nor this new proposed stadium. However,I’m sure if “second tier” teams such as Colombian – Ecuadorian – Mexican club teams (as opposed to national) were willing to travel, they could play there and sell it out… It will all go according to the financial payoffs for the teams whether they would do it or not.

Larry Littlefield August 16, 2012 - 11:12 am

“There are plenty of opportunities for international friendlies like the one they played yesterday at Citifield.”

So Citifield hosted a soccer game succesfully? Then why not just use Citifield? The Wilpons could use the rent to improve the Mets.

Yes the configuration isn’t ideal, but so what? Is the difference worth $300 million?

Eric F August 16, 2012 - 11:45 am

Interesting point. I think using Citifield probably wouldn’t work because playing soccer there at frequency would tear up the field for baseball. I’m assuming they can solve any scheduling conflicts pretty easily though. But, MLS wants teams housed in soccer-specific stadia. This is a big deal to them. Citifield is not a cavernous ground like Shea or Giants Stadium, but it’s still probably too big for what MLS wants and they hate the multi-purpose thing. One question is whether a team could play there and the Mets deal with the field tearing temporarily while they wait for a stadium to be constructed.

Jeff August 16, 2012 - 2:27 pm

The MLS isn’t awarding any expansion team unless there are concrete plans for a soccer specific stadium (I think Seattle was the sole exception to this in the last decade and that was a very unique circumstance where people actually voted to build the Seahawks’ stadium because it would potentially host soccer).

So yes, Citifield wouldn’t work.

Henry August 17, 2012 - 2:03 am

“15 games a year per stadium”

Is there a point to building a stadium that will only be filled two weeks out of the year?

John August 17, 2012 - 12:06 pm

well its 17 home games a year, possible playoffs, possible US open soccer Cup home matches, friendlies, international matches, CONCACAF Champions League, CONCACAF Gold Cup early round matches, college games, high school soccer. The min amount is 17 home games, usually you get about 35 events a year. about the same amount met life stadium gets after you figure in the 20 home and preseason games, and the concerts and other events

AG August 16, 2012 - 7:16 pm

Eric – I’m not so sure if immigrants are the best source of MLS fans… Why? Because in many cases cable television plays so many of the leagues where everyone comes from (it’s without a doubt the most covered sport on cable – with 3 dedicated networks of Gol TV – Fox Soccer and Fox Soccer Plus (formerly Setanta) – not to mention extensive coverage on Galavision – ESPN Deportes – Univision. Unless a “hero” is playing on an MLS team – I tend to believe most MLS fans are US bred. For instance – on of my favorite players was Thierry Henry… but I have not paid to see him play for the Red Bulls simply because he’s a shadow of his former self. That might work in celebrity obsessed LA with David Beckham… but I’m not sure about the rest of the league. That said – I think another team can be a success. That’s why the stadiums are being purpose built at 25k… MLS knows they are not going to regularly draw crowds the size of the bigger international leagues.

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines August 16, 2012 - 9:00 am

[…] Be on the Lookout for Another Stadium-Induced MTA Sweetheart Deal (CapNY, 2nd Ave Sagas) […]

John-2 August 16, 2012 - 12:59 pm

The Flushing line’s isolation from the rest of the IRT network makes it important that the MTA doesn’t fork over the Corona yard land, since there’s no other alternative yard location, unless that 7-train-to-Secaucus becomes a reality and another yard could go at the west end of the line.

On the other hand, decking over part of Corona yard for some alternative use could be viable depending on what that use would be (parking and/or exterior ticket/retail facilities for a new stadium would be viable, though I don’t know if you’d actually want the stadium itself sitting on top of the rail yard).

Larry Littlefield August 16, 2012 - 2:24 pm

Why don’t the Red Bulls East just lease this stadium from Columbia?

“In addition to providing a modern facility for Columbia’s student-athletes, Lawrence A. Wien Stadium acts as a modern athletics arena in a traditional setting which provides for the needs of fans, alumni, and the media. The Columbia press box, located on the east side of the field, stands at the top of a three-level structure that also houses the Maniatty-Remmer Lounge, home to numerous alumni gatherings. The home stands, below the press and lounge areas, hold 10,500 spectators in armchair, contour and bench seats. In 1986 the west stands were dedicated. The construction of the 6,500-seat west bleachers increased stadium capacity to the current 17,000.”

“Beyond the west stands is a panoramic view of Spuyten Duyvil, the confluence of the Harlem and Hudson rivers, and the New Jersey Palisades. The view is one reason that Wien Stadium was featured in Sports Illustrated as one of the most beautiful places in the country to watch a football game.”

Next thing you know, every airline is going to demand their own airport.

Jeff August 16, 2012 - 2:39 pm

Because its not a soccer specific stadium.

The Columbia soccer team doesn’t even play there, they play at a soccer specific stadium next door that seats 3,500

thedudeandwalter August 16, 2012 - 4:54 pm

I guess Ben isnt much of a fan of soccer judging by the tone of his article.

Benjamin Kabak August 16, 2012 - 4:55 pm

Not a fan of municipalities spending tax dollars on stadiums. I enjoy a good soccer match otherwise.

AG August 16, 2012 - 5:20 pm

I don’t understand the tone of the article. NYC is a sports crazed town. That’s why the wounds of the Dodgers (and Giants) leaving town is still such a sore point. For instance – the only ppl I hear complaining about the Barclays in Brooklyn are the gentrifiers that moved in when they “discovered” the brownstones surrounding the area. The average ppl look at it with a sense of “pride” that major sports are back in Brooklyn (no coincidence that many of them had to leave the neighborhood long before the arena was a thought).

The MLS never wanted to be in Jersey… they always wanted to be in the 5 boroughs. Much was made about the park swap when the new Yankee Stadium was constructed. Yeah – ppl have to walk a few blocks more (especially to the tennis courts near the Gateway Mall)… but the parks are MUCH better than what was there… let’s just hope it’s maintained.

In terms of the MTA land… well they have to make a wise decision regarding the necessary usage of the land. I don’t know it personally so can’t speak on it… but an agency notorious for waste could/should get more efficient even in this process.

lawhawk August 17, 2012 - 2:24 pm

Municipal spending on stadiums doesn’t bring the revenues that the municipalities expect and the economic benefits don’t match the projections provided by the teams. The cities build because of the threat to so-called civic pride, but the benefit inures to the owners and few others. Replacing a stadium for another stadium means few benefits to the locality.

Here, we’re talking about a new soccer stadium on nine acres of underutilized land where the MLS is supposedly putting up the money to build the stadium (but the city/state/MTA will have to spring for infrastructure enhancements). The MTA most definitely needs to optimize its real estate holding and get top dollar for whatever parcel it would need to sell to make this happen.

Does the City need a new soccer arena? One could question the need when CitiField just held another major soccer event . Scheduling might make it tough to co-locate a MLS soccer team there, but we’re talking about 34 game seasons (plus playoffs). The MLS says that they’d build other parks to make up for the land taken away from Flushing park, but as we saw with the Yankees, it’s real easy to make those promises, but a whole lot tougher to get them to pay up and do so in a timely fashion.

AG August 17, 2012 - 5:32 pm

lawhawk – ppl might not have found it timely… but as someone who coached a team in the area… the parks are most certainly better around Yankee Stadium than they were before. At the same time – anyone who thought the parks would be finished before the stadium aren’t living in reality. Of course they will finish the revenue generators first.

Panthers August 18, 2012 - 8:45 am

I am a huge sports fan, a mass transit advocate, and against such taxpayer-funded projects as the West Side Stadium. However…….

A new soccer-specific stadium on the site that is sewage, stink and car parts businesses is a win-win for everyone. Firstly, regarding soccer, the Red Bull (or Red Bulls depending on your interpretation of the name) are not popular because they have done little to embrace fans in New York City. They rarely scout in places like Corona and Flushing and in general, the talent here in the City. The team that would occupy the new stadium, the New York Cosmos, still have cache in the City, at least among people my age. I grew up watching them, I was a diehard fan and I want to see them back here.

For people who think the Cosmos wouldn’t do well, I say nonsense. From the start of Corona to the end of Northern Blvd., you have the most probably the most diverse and largest ethnic mix in the world. It seems what country or region isn’t represented? Thailand, India, the Philippines, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil (Astoria), Paraguay, Mexico, Ireland…..a good, contending club with a mix of international or home-grown ethnic talent would bring fans in. Secondly, a rivalry with the Red Bull as well as Philadelphia and Washington, and not to mention old enemies Portland and Seattle will bring fans. Could you imagine a Cosmos-Club America game? That would be nuts.

More importantly……
It puts an end to that fetid swamp that has been waiting for development it seems forever. It puts people back to work. It will bring revenue to the area. In terms of transit, some people will walk from Flushing as I used to do to Shea Stadium growing up. I don’t see a huge burden on the 7. And what about the old E and F trackage that was used to route trains to the Worlds Fair? If you could expand the E and F trains, maybe run the R or M (or the G) out to a new station at the complex (surely a soccer stadium, a baseball stadium and a tennis stadium will have to be called a complex), it would take some of the burden off the 7.


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