New York City has two professional teams in every major sport: baseball, football, hockey and, by next year, basketball. Now, Major League Soccer is eyeing a second team for the area, and the league wants it to be based right in the heart of Queens at Flushing Meadows Park.
Stating that “the world’s greatest game should be played at the world’s park,” MLS is planning a 20,000 to 25,000 seat stadium either on or next to the Fountain of the Planets to house a new MLS team, which would join the New York Red Bulls, who play in New Jersey.
It is not the first time the park has been fingered for a major sports stadium; the Olympic Stadium in New York City’s failed bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics was slated for Flushing Meadows and the New York Jets eyed a possible home there. The proposed size and location of the soccer arena, however, has raised eyebrows. Its location may mean the demolition of the Fountain of the Planets, one of the few remaining relics of the 1964-65 World’s Fair. The fountain itself was the proposed site for a whitewater canoeing course
Because the site is public parkland, any development would need approval from both the City Council and state legislature and MLS would have to mitigate the used land with an equal amount of new parkland in another location within city limits. The league said it would also fund renovations of public sports fields within the park, including cricket, soccer and volleyball fields.
MLS estimates the stadium would take up eight acres, but some local officials say it could be more than twice that size. A standard soccer field alone is roughly two acres. The league said the stadium would create 2,000 construction jobs, 300 permanent full-time jobs and 900 permanent part-time jobs.
Soccer has a big following among immigrant communites in Queens, and matches have been held at CitiField, including one between the national teams of Greece and Ecuador in 2011.