The “finish line” is near.
According to Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, negotiations with New York City are nearing their final stages that could see the league acquire the right to build a stadium for their 20th franchise in the heart of Flushing Meadow Park.
“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,” Garber told the media in his State of the League address. “I do believe that we will resolve that shortly.
“I can’t put any timetable on that,” he continued, “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.”
Part of that process will be presenting a plan that will replace the 10 acres of existing land being used for the stadium and securing a parking agreement with the New York Mets to share commuter space. From there, an arduous process of bureaucratic red tape will await the league, which still aims to debut their second New York franchise by 2016.
“I don’t think there is any one obstacle (that is greater than another),” Garber conceded. “These projects are very complicated. You’ve seen what Bruce Ratner had to go through with the Barclay Center (in Brooklyn) and what the Yankees and Mets went through to get their stadiums finalized.”
The idea behind the project, as Garber put it, is to get MLS past the “clutter” of a dozen sport franchises that inhabit the New York City area and to create a rivalry between the Red Bulls and the yet-to-be-determined Queens franchise with the hopes of matching the electric atmosphere “(MLS) has in the Pacific North West.”
“There are 13 million people in this city,” he said. “Many of them love the game. We need to give them all an opportunity to stop for a moment and pay attention to Major League Soccer, to pay more attention to the Red Bulls, to pay attention to this 20th team and create very, very special moments for soccer in the New York metropolitan area.”
He also spoke of the economic impact it would have for the job-starved borough. According to the league, this dubbed “NY2″ project would bring Queens 2,200 construction jobs, 800 day-of-game jobs and about 200 full-time jobs there after.
“This is a huge economic opportunity for a borough that needs it and at a time when our city can really use the job growth,” Garber said.
As for who would be bestowed the right to operate this franchise, the Commissioner did say that there were several interested parties, but declined to get into any further details. “I can’t talk about who they are but you’d expect this is an exciting opportunity,” he said. “There are a wide variety of people that expressed interest, some of who we are in detailed discussions with.”
Currently, there are two known groups vying for that right; one being the Seamus O’Brien led New York Cosmos organization, and the other a consortium that includes former CONCACAF General Secretary Chuck Blazer and New York Jets great Curtis Martin.
Archived content originally from EmpireOfSoccer.com by Dave Martinez