Build a soccer stadium
$400 Million plan would create 2,500 jobs
Labor, community activists and the New York Cosmos professional soccer team rallied in Elmont, New York on Wednesday, May 3rd to support a proposed multi use soccer stadium and retail space. They also called on the Empire State Development Corp. (ESDC) to review their proposed plan.
About 150 people braved intermittent showers to speak out for the stadium proposal. Activists for the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and the Nassau Suffolk Building Trades organized and attended the rally. The proposed stadium would take the vacant parking lot that sits on the south side of Belmont Park and turn it into a 25,000 seat stadium for the NY Cosmos, Nassau County’s only professional sports team. Nassau County used to have the NY Islanders, a professional NHL team, but Republican Town Supervisor Kate Murray sent them packing to Barclay’s Center. This project is much needed now that the Islanders are gone. The plan would create a 60,000 square foot area to house 9 restaurants, 250,000 square feet of retail space, a hotel, a community center and soccer fields for the community. The entire plan would be financed by developers who are not even asking for tax breaks.
From labors point of view, this is a win-win situation. According to John Durso, President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, the proposal would create 500 construction jobs and 2,000 jobs servicing the stadium, restaurants, retail and hotel. The plan would mean jobs for members of all different trades during the construction. That was evident by the Building Trades Union that came to the rally, which included Laborers, Carpenters, Plumbers and Painters among others. The construction on the project is expected to take up to 3 years.
Much of the focus of the rally was to respond to some of the allegations that local community members and politicians have put out in the media. This narrative has stalled progress on the ESDC approving the plan. Both labor and community leaders who spoke talked about how the project will turn a blighted property into one that provides tax relief and jobs to the community.
The project will cost $400 million. The Cosmos have already been asked by the ESDC to revise their plan to move away from just a stadium to include retail and restaurants. Now that they have done that, they want to see results. At the rally, Durso said “It’s time for the governor and the Empire State Development Corporation to get off the dime, get this project going and get us to work.”
Cosmos COO Erik Stover agreed saying “This will be a destination 365 days a year. If we do this here, there will be more jobs. And more jobs mean more housing in the community.”
Everyone involved seem to be hoping for a quick solution from Albany. The Cosmos, who currently play at Hofstra University, have previously talked about leaving Long Island for a stadium in Brooklyn, but backed off of that idea once the ESDC began re-engaging with them on the stadium plan.