By DAVE MARTINEZ
A 25,000-seat professional soccer stadium in New York is being proposed for construction at the center of a rundown area of land with the aspiration of opening by 2016.
Sound familiar? You bet, but it isn’t Major League Soccer’s proposal we are talking about.
The New York Cosmos ownership group has submitted a bold plan to construct a stadium adjacent to Belmont Park right on the border line between New York City and Long Island, and the NASL club is serious about seeing its latest ambitious goal come to fruition.
“Well you don’t put this type of proposal and response to a formal RFP if you are not serious,” Cosmos COO Erik Stover told SBI. “We believe the scope of work is necessary. It is appropriate for this project and we are obviously very serious about our statement to be at the top of the soccer pyramid in this country.”
The “Elmont Town Crossing” proposal holds the Cosmos Stadium as a center piece to a privately-funded $400 million socio-economic commercial revitalization project which will include the construction of a hotel, retail space, eateries and more in an area heavily hit by the devastation of the financial crisis and Hurricane Sandy. The project estimates the creation of 3,000 full-time jobs and 500 temporary construction jobs being created, earning a cash-strapped Nassau County a projected $200 million a year in revenue.
“(Chairman) Seamus O’Brien and the board have been working on this for quite a while,” Stover said. “To be completely candid, it came about a bit sooner then we may have liked simply because of the nature of an RFP process, but Seamus and the board managed the project.
“We certainly had some input but I am very focused on getting the organization right to play in 2013. Once we move towards this project being real, we win the bid and get serious on negotiations and actually put the shovel on the ground, we will be taking more of an active role with it.”
The club estimates ground breaking by 2014 with the stadium opening by the Spring of 2016. Of course, all those projections are contingent on doing one thing first: winning the RFP.
Nassau County is expected to announce the winning bid within the next 90 days.
“If you look at the renderings, it really blends in very nicely to the area with both highways running north, south, east, west through that area with pedestrian bridges,” Stover explained. “It’s a rather large 28 acres of land we are developing on just the stadium site. There is also a secondary site that has the hotel and some other retail and restaurants.
“On the stadium site, it is 28 acres, four-and-a-half of which will be a public park so we donate that to the community. I think right off the bat that those are two very significant points for the beautification of the area.”
Asked how this would affect the team’s continued aspiration to reach the “upper echelon” of the American Soccer pyramid while seemingly competing with Major League Soccer’s multimillion dollar initiative to land a stadium in Flushing, Stover brushed off the notion.
“Well for us, we are very focused on our project,” he said. “There is certainly enough work there. We are not going to concern ourselves with competing concepts. The investors we have, the principles now are very solvent and certainly capable of managing this project on their own.”
For Cosmos fans, the news has been welcomed by a mixed reaction. Though the renderings released on NewCosmosStadium.com have certainly earned plaudits from the team’s supporters, the location is hardly an ideal one for fans.
Stover hopes that, as plans continue to unfold, people see the greater picture behind the project.
“(The stadium) is bordered by two major highways so access by car will be easy,” he stated. “There will be plenty of parking, parking spaces. There will certainly be plenty to do before and after matches with the mixed use development we are planning. The LIRR comes right there and right now. It’s just a train stop for races but we would expect to have the same for our events.
“It’s convenient there,” he continued. “I am not 100% sure, but I believe the LIRR is expanding to Grand Central Station over the next few years so that would mean greater access to Manhattan and greater convenience for everyone plus there are bus lines and other mass transit. As far as mass transit and convenience, it fits all those boxes.”
“The stadium borders Queens. In fact, part of Belmont Park is in Queens. We take that as certainly a benefit to the project. We love the location and I think as our supporters take a look at the concept, see the drawings, renderings and get into the stadium website and actually see what the vision and the plans are, I am certain they will support the idea. If it doesn’t match everybody’s ideal plan, I think over time they will come to see it as the best possible solution for this club.”