BY LUIS GRONDA
Months after submitting a proposal for a new stadium, the New York Cosmos are still waiting to hear if their plan will be approved.
The team submitted its stadium proposal in response to a Request for Proposal from the Empire State Development Corporation earlier this year. The Cosmos currently plays its games at Hofstra University and won the league championship in its return season.
The Cosmos defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 1-0 to win the NASL Soccer Bowl. The team finished with the best record in the league, winning nine of the 14 games it played.
According to the Cosmos website dedicated to the proposal, cosmosstadium.com, the project would turn sections of Belmont Park into an entertainment complex, including a 25,000-seat soccer stadium and a restaurant row.
The row would consist of nine restaurants and nearly 250,000-square-feet of retail space. The plan also includes a 175-room hotel and a brand new 4.3-acre public park for the community near the proposed stadium.
The proposal was submitted by the Cosmos and the Mattone Group, a real estate and construction company based in Queens that helped design the potential stadium, before its deadline in January of this year. No decision on a proposal for the area has been publicly announced yet by the ESDC, almost a year after the deadline passed for the RFP.
The ESDC did not respond to a request for comment asking about the RFP’s status before press time.
A Cosmos spokesperson said they have not heard anything new regarding the proposal but they remain confident in their idea for the area.
“The Request for Proposal issued by the Empire State Development Corporation did not include a timeline for a decision. It is a privately funded mixed-used development, which includes a stadium, that will help create thousands of full time jobs and will not require taxpayer dollars,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
A source familiar with the stadium plans expressed frustration with the lack of an announcement, saying it is delaying the potential jobs it would create.
“They deserve a yes or a no at this point,” the source said.
According to the source, the stadium would bring more than 2,000 jobs to the community including many construction jobs while the stadium is being built and jobs from the restaurants and other retail stores as well.
“That kind of opportunity does not come around every day,” the source said.
The stadium would be similar in capacity to Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ, and would be used for other events like college soccer, lacrosse and other community activities.
Its parking capacity would fit about 7,500 cars, which is about the same as Citi Field, according to the source. That would encompass the existing parking used for the Belmont Stakes and new lots that would be created.
Others have expressed concern for the project and have urged for an alternative plan.
Nassau County legislator Carrie Solages said the project would damage the quality of life in the Elmont community and urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reject any proposal for a stadium.
“In an era when Big Sports is about big profits and lucrative franchise deals, Elmont seeks something other than being the gateway to a mega soccer stadium. The public relations blitz currently assaulting our neighborhoods touting the alleged benefits of a stadium fail to acknowledge the reality that Elmont would receive minimal benefits from this kind of sports arena,” he said.
Other elected officials like U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont), Carrie’s sister, are also against the proposal.
“This project does not have our support. I strongly recommend continued dialogue aimed at reaching a consensus on the kind of development that will reinvigorate Belmont Park, create jobs, improve infrastructure, and meet community needs,” Meeks said in a release earlier this year.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @luisgronda.