Brian Lehrer

Nine mayoral candidates, no committals to support a new MLS stadium in Queens

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Major League Soccer is putting in a lot of work  behind the scenes, working with the City of New York to get a new stadium project in Queens underway as soon as possible. Outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg is behind the effort, identifying the deals as one his legacy projects he wants underway when his third term is over at the end of the year.

Problem: Nobody seems too eager to carry the torch on this project, with nine mayoral candidates showing ambivalence when asked about the stadium during a Monday debate.

The project would use 13 acres of land in Flushing Meadows Corona Park to build a 25,000-seat stadium, where it’s assumed “NY2” – shorthanded for the expansion team that would become Major League Soccer’s second New York franchise – would play. The franchise fee for NY2 is expected to reach $100 million.

At an event sponsored by the New York League of Conservation Voters and at the Great Hall in the Cooper Union, moderator Brian Lehrer asked for a show of hands: Who “solidly” supported the stadium project?

Nobody raised their hand.

Lehrer then asked who was against the project.

Nobody raised their hand.

One candidate, John Liu, drew the short straw and was asked to explain his indecisiveness:

“When they talk about alienating parkland for a stadium, they always make promises of making sure that the parkland is restored in another different park in the borough or in the city. Unfortunately, under this administration, we have seen a couple of other stadiums that have been built, and the parks facilities and spaces not being made available until the public, until a huge amount of public pressure was put to bear on the administration. So, there’s a credibility factor here. And I certainly, in the case of the Major League Soccer stadium that’s being proposed, and I do believe the administration is pushing behind the scenes, I do not think overall it’s a good idea because they haven’t shown us exactly where they want to restore the parkland.”

That can’t be good: “I do not think overall it’s a good idea.” Then again, John Liu is running third in recent polls, trailing Christine Quinn and Anthony Weiner.

But with nobody willing to step forward to support the stadium, who knows: Liu’s feelings may reflect others’ questions about MLS’s Queens Stadium. Regardless, it may be much better for MLS’s stadium dreams if ground broke on the venue while Bloomberg was in office.