Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

MLS Isn't Interested In Citi Field, Because When You Can Plow A Massive Park To Build A Soccer Stadium, You Do It

Illustration for article titled MLS Isn't Interested In Citi Field, Because When You Can Plow A Massive Park To Build A Soccer Stadium, You Do It

The opening of the Barclays Center hasn't been without its challenges. Even after most of the ideological debate—lawsuits over eminent domain stalled the project for years, affordable housing advocates vociferously protested the development—dissipated in the wake of the arena's opening, structural issues remained. The designers stipulated that the arena be built with Cor-Ten, a weathered steel that may be too unstable to coat a sports arena. Those rusty brown panels have already "dripped orange blossoms onto the sidewalk." Recently, 8% of the bolts that join the panels to the stadium needed to be replaced only three months after the arena opened; it was not a sure thing that the panels could withstand Hurricane Sandy.


If and when MLS builds its new stadium in Queens, they'll be using the same architects, and running into some of the same ideological problems by developing on park land that's highly valued by the same people they hope to attract to their games. Stadium construction costs almost always accrue disproportionately to taxpayers instead of leagues or owners, and just last week, the Bills renewed their stadium lease—including luxury amenity renovations—with a sweetheart deal that put Erie County and the state of New York on the hook for a combined $226 million, 84% of construction costs. Regardless of the feel-good vibes around bringing back the New York Cosmos in some form or another, there are plenty of reasons to militate against the construction of a new stadium. Couldn't Citi Field, which sits on lots that border the park that MLS plans to raze for the new arena, function as a soccer stadium?

Yeah, of course, but Major League Soccer isn't biting. From the Daily News:

The Mets are "very interested and fully capable" of bringing Major League Soccer to Citi Field, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) announced Thursday.

The move would boost the baseball team's coffers and eliminate potential competition from a $300 million MLS soccer stadium proposed for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

"The Mets would be open to discussing the use of Citi Field for a potential MLS team," -Mets spokesman Jay] Horwitz said in a statement.

But MLS spokeswoman Risa Heller dismissed the proposal.

The league is in talks with the city to build a 25,000-seat stadium on up to 13 acres in Flushing Meadows.

"An MLS team at Citi Field is a nonstarter for us," she said in a statement. "A soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a win for soccer fans, a win for the Queens community and a win for economic development."

So, there goes that. If, in a few years, you're wondering why Queens has not much park land, but two different stadiums with a combined 70,000 seats within a mile of each other, remember that, way back when, the Mets offered to share.

Mets Interested In Bringing Major League Soccer To Citi Field [Daily News]