Jumbled up in all the excited and scattered implication, impacts and ramifications of today’s big MLS announcement has been some curiously mixed messages on the future site of Major League Soccer’s new home.
For months now, it’s been Queens – and all about Queens.
This is what MLS commissioner Don Garber told a gathering of Associated Press sports editors just last month: “If we get this done, it will be in Flushing Meadow Park. There is no Plan B.”
It seemed that Major League Soccer’s plan to develop a 25,000-seat stadium as part of a $340 million project was just about done circling the outer markers and ready to come in for a landing … an appropriate metaphor since the site selected was just down the road from LaGuardia Airport.
But the project got bogged down in local politics, as these things so frequently do. It is apparently all about Major League Soccer’s obligation to create parkland as part of a land swap. And thus, we get statements like this from Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano, which came during an interview with ESPN FC:
We are very well aware that the city and MLS have been working on this potential stadium in Queens, and we want to continue these discussions. But this is not about finding a stadium, it’s about finding a home, so we want to do the process right. We want to listen to everybody in the community. We’re looking for a home that will be successful from a football standpoint, the commercial standpoint, but also the community standpoint. So we’ll take the time to listen to everybody and to continue these discussions. At the same time we need to look at other options.”
That’s from Jeff Carlisle’s piece at ESPNFC.com, where the veteran soccer writer wonders about all this backpedaling. Major League Soccer’s newest ownership group, and quite the well-heeled one, said pursuit of the site as part of the Flushing Meadoes complex will continue. But they sound a lot less committed today than a month ago.
It could just be leverage at work. Because in the leverage department, Major League Soccer just put a bunch of weight on its side in the Yankees, clearly an institution in the nation’s largest city. Still, it ’s worth wondering about. And watching.