|Courtesy of Soccer by Ives|
We've been reporting on Major League Soccer's plans to place a second team in New York City for quite sometime, but if reports are true, this move may become official before the end of the year.
On June 27th we posted an article about the league's discussions with Mayor Bloomberg and city council members on the use of a 9 acre site in Flushing Meadows, more specifically the area of the former World Expo that is currently occupied by the Fountain of Industry. MLS confirmed at the time that indeed the Queens site, adjacent to Citi Field and the United States Tennis Association complex was their first choice for a new state-of-the-art soccer complex. And while construction projects in New York City move as quickly as a taxi at rush hour, MLS may be bucking this trend and could be very close to announcing the details on the stadium and investor behind the team.
This is where my serious tone takes a bit of a turn because the source of the latest information is non-other than the New York Post. Ah yes, "The Post", home to bikini clad Page Six babes and the latest rumors in which celebrity is sexting who. It may not help either that the author of the article is Fredric U. Dicker; and no I am not making this up. Regardless of how you feel about "The Post" I think anyone in New York would agree that they have about as many insiders in the local and state government as Rupert Murdoch had wiretaps on British politicians. So as much as we might want to laugh off this information, there is probably more than just a little truth to it considering outside sources with similar connections have confirmed the same.
The story from the New York Post states that a deal is all but finalized to put build a $300M stadium on the Flushing Meadows site and that the approval from the state could come as early as November. Although the land is owned by the government, the state requires that we every acre of public park taken a replacement acre must be provided somewhere else in the city. Our understanding, not just from the Post article, is that MLS is pushing for the land to be provided at no cost both at Flushing Meadows and at the public parks make-up parcel. The stadium would be funded in full by the ownership group which could be taken as the new expansion team owner but it is more likely to mean MLS and the owner in some sort of joint venture.
So now the speculation begins on who the next team will be, and it will come as no surprise that the most likely candidate is the Cosmos organization. On July 12th the New York Times reported that the Cosmos had struck a deal with the North American Soccer League to start playing in the 2013 season. The owners of the Cosmos, Sela Sport, are better known for player agents and league management in Saudi Arabia, but they are tied to the royal family who have just a few dollars to throw around. The schedule works out perfect, the Cosmos play in NASL for 2013 and 2014 while the stadium is built then they make the move to MLS. For NASL it is a short-term opportunity to have a fire sale on expansion franchises in a last ditch effort to stop the financial bleeding of having to meet the USSF D2 league/team requirements. Don't believe me? A Northern Virginia group is close to signing on for the 2014 season along with another group in St. Louis and potentially two other groups out west in Phoenix and San Diego.