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Queens Chronicle

MLS hopes Queens franchise announcement coming in 4-6 weeks

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Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013 11:00 am | Updated: 11:09 am, Fri Apr 26, 2013.

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber hopes to announce a deal for its 20th franchise in “4 to 6 weeks.”

The Queens native alluded to a potential deal finally being ironed out with the city that could let MLS to announce its latest franchise.

The announcement will presumably be followed by the kickoff of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure that would allow it to set up a 35,000-seat stadium in the heart of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

“"We are deeply engaged with potential ownership groups and we're hopeful to be able to announce a 20th team within the next [four to six weeks]," Garber said.

The league has had a quiet two months after an all-out media and local advertising push to promote its proposed stadium at the current site of the Pool of Industry.

Various sources have told the Chronicle MLS has hit snags with finding an ownership group to fund the $350 million stadium; the league also has not worked out a deal regarding parking at the New York Mets’ facilities.

It left some miffed at Garber’s claim a deal could be in the ironed out soon. The city is in the midst of helping two big-ticket projects slated for Flushing Meadows Corona Park navigate ULURP: the proposed expansion of the United States Tennis Association’s National Tennis Center, and the redevelopment of Willets Point.

"We're making progress," Garber said of talks with New York City. "We continue – you've heard this for the last year – but we continue to negotiate with the City of New York and meet with local political folks and community leaders to get support for the stadium we hope to build in Flushing Meadow Park."

Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan remains at the top of a shortlist of potential owners able to cover the cost of the stadium’s $350 million price tag, along with the league’s $100 million expansion fee, according to sources.

The United Arab Emirates’ deputy prime minister and high-living scion of the nation’s royal family has watched his high-priced franchise in England fall to second place this season. Sources believe Manchester City’s visit to New York City on May 25 to play a friendly match against London’s Chelsea FC would provide the perfect venue for Garber to announce a deal with the Sheikh.

Bloomberg News reported back in December the league was heavily courting the Abu Dhabi heavyweight to foot the nearly half-billion dollars (some have said more) needed to start-up the franchise.

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