BY MEGAN MONTALVO
After months of garnering mixed support and opposition over the proposed construction of a 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Major League Soccer officials are now welcoming a major endorsement backed by three local labor unions.
Making their announcement on Feb. 7, representatives from the Hotel Trades Council, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and 32BJ SEIU cited the creation of approximately 2,100 construction-related jobs, 160 full-time jobs and 750 part-time jobs as their impetus to support the initiative. With a combined membership of more than 200,000 individuals, the unions’ endorsement marks the first organized labor support for the MLS proposal.
“A Major League Soccer stadium in Queens will be good for the working men and women of New York City; it will create good jobs and enhance the park,” said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU. “We are committed to continuing to work with MLS and the community to make sure this is done in a way to benefit the area as a whole.”
Although MLS is still in talks with City officials to finalize plans for the $300 million stadium that would take up to 13 acres in the park, the trio of unions believe that the economic benefit to the Borough’s working families and local businesses would extend beyond construction, allowing for more foot traffic in the surrounding restaurants and retail stores during game season.
“The economy in Queens is still hurting,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council. “The recession is still taking a toll on middle and lower income families, and it would be a shame for Queens to be shut out of such a tremendous opportunity for good jobs.”
While the Fairness Coalition of Queens, a coalition of community-based organizations formed to ensure that all new uses or proposed redesigns in Flushing Meadows Corona Park include a process for input from residents, as well as several local business owners in the area have presented several petitions to City Hall in an attempt to decry the supposed benefits of the stadium’s construction, which is scheduled to start in 2014, union leaders say they feel assured that once the stadium is completed, new jobs and fair wages with benefits will continue to mount in the Borough.
“Tens of thousands of Queens residents, including many hotel workers and their families, who live in the diverse neighborhoods surrounding Flushing Meadows Corona Park are excited to support a project that will create good jobs for many New Yorkers,” said Peter Ward, president of the Hotel Trades Council.
Reach Reporter Megan Montalvo at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.