Proposed Soccer Stadium in Queens–20 Things You Need to Know
1. The stadium would be built on 9 to 12 acres worth of public land alienated out of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
2. The Soccer Stadium would seat 25,000 with MLS officials shooting for an opening by 2016.
3. It would cost an approximated $300 million to build.
4. This would represent a massive market expansion for Major League Soccer–New York City has a larger population than the last six cities in which MLS opened up a franchise–combined.
5. Stadium construction could require as much as $100 million in tax breaks.
6. Major League Soccer has already spent nearly $1.5 million lobbying for approval of the stadium.
7. One proposal for design and placement of the soccer stadium looks like this.
8. Since the Stadium would be built on public land, it would need approval from both state and city legislatures.
9. Due to New York laws about public land, MLS will have to find an equal amount of nearby space (and of equal recreational value) to replace the acres of soccer fields the stadium would be taking out of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. When and where the entirety of that will come from has not yet been clearly specified by league officials.
10. According to Crain’s, part of the proposed deal includes “a 35-year, $1-a-year lease, with no sales taxes on construction materials, no property taxes and no revenue sharing with the city.”
11. Local activists accuse the league officials and the city of ramming through the project around the resistance of local communities (a majority of which is middle and working-class, with large pockets of “gateway” immigrant communities). Public hearings have been very poorly advertised and extremely unilateral, with minimal community participation, transparency or local-level democracy. Anna Dioguardi of Queens Community House called the lack of details “disturbing.”
12. In an initial meeting “with the community” representatives of Major League Soccer never actually directly responded to questions from the community. Instead, questions were submitted by index card, with only MLS representatives choosing which questions (and concerns) would be addressed.
13. Despite the fact that there’s a half-empty shopping mall, Skyview Mall, within eye-shot of the park, the stadium is actually part of a package that would include another 1.4 million square-foot shopping mall. That package is itself related to a far wider development package that effectively means the up-pricing of a vast swathe of Queens and the pricing-out of many working and middle class families.
14. Ramifications of the total development would most certainly include a vast displacement of Queens’ gateway immigrant communities that have long fostered not only an on-ramp into local culture but a hub for local business innovation.
15. While thousands of jobs are always promised in these massive construction projects, the jobs that are actually left over are not only far fewer than the temporary constructions jobs but they also pay far less. The same would happen quite specifically in the case of the Queens Soccer Stadium. While some 2,000 construction jobs are promised, what would be left over are a promised 150 full-time and 700 part-time jobs (most likely service sector and low-paying).
16. According to documents obtained by the Queens Chronicle, about a decade ago the city had already specifically looked into the economics of a very similar plan for building a very similar soccer stadium in Queens. It’s final analysis?
“The net public return for a facility built in Queens, whether enclosed or open-air, results in a significant annual public loss,” the analysis concludes. (QChron)
17. Flushing Meadows Corona Park also serves as a natural sponge, providing natural protection against flooding threats all too familiar to Forest Hills residents. As reported by the Forest Hills Patch
“Not only does the park provide a free place for families to exercise and relax — it also helps absorb flooding,” said Donovan Finn, professor of Environmental Planning at SUNY Stony Brook. “Our park acts as a natural sponge during storms. If the Bloomberg Administration allows construction of a massive corporate stadium on wetlands there — what is to prevent storm surges from reaching surrounding communities of Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Corona and Flushing?”
18. The proposal to take public space and give it to a sports team may actually be costing Mayor Bloomberg some of his support among the “socially conservative” demographics in North and Central Queens that put a high premium on public space for family and community life. Consider this statement from a local religious leader, (LIC/Astoria Journal)
“We love you mayor, but stay off our grass,” said Our Lady of Sorrows Monsignor Thomas Healy, saying that the local community needs the park for their families to use.
19. Thousands of Queens residents signed a petition delivered to Mayor Bloomberg in mid-December that read,
Dear Mayor Bloomberg,Please protect parkland at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park!Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is threatened by corporate interests who want this valuable public asset for their own private gain at the expense of the largely working class, immigrant population of Queens.We ask that all new uses or proposed redesigns in the area of Flushing Meadows Corona Park are undertaken in a fair and responsible manner to include a process for local resident and community stake holder input.
20. The Soccer Stadium project itself has not yet entered the ULURP process.