Cosmos COO Erik Stover Talks Belmont Stakes

The proposed new stadium in Belmont Park would not only provide the New York Cosmos with a home, but would offer a “Restaurant Row” of nine new eateries, nearly 250,000 square feet of retail space, a 175-room hotel and the development of a brand-new 4.3 acre public park for the residential community - including fields for local soccer teams.

By David Witchard

The game of musical chairs involving proposed soccer stadiums in New York took a new twist this week with the breaking news that the New York Cosmos have put in a bid to develop a $400 million, 25,000 seater stadium complete with shops, a park for local soccer teams, and a hotel on the site of the famous Belmont Park racetrack on the border of Queens and Nassau County.

 

The club launched a new website today, http://newcosmosstadium.com that highlights the plans with some impressive artist renderings of the proposed site. The news came as something of a surprise on Tuesday as the Cosmos have already announced that they will be playing their home matches in the NASL this year at Hofstra University.

 

“We have sort of a rolling contract with Hofstra,” Cosmos COO Erik Stover told First Touch. “They are aware of this project, we actually made them aware of it this morning. We have a good relationship there. I think they are happy that we are there and our plan is certainly to stay at Hofstra until we get this plan up and running.”

 

Stover went on to explain that this new stadium proposal was put together very quickly over a few months.

“Actually, for the Cosmos organization and the board it’s been a pretty tight turnaround to be honest, on the order of months and certainly not years. I think this opportunity, being that its a governmental RFP, came across to us at a time when we weren’t necessarily thinking about a stadium, but the opportunity was so good and Seamus (Chairman Seamus O’Brien) and the board did such a fantastic job pulling a great team together, they were able to submit a bid in time. So it happened much faster than these types of projects normally come together.”


In fact the proposal was only delivered to the Empire State Development Corporation last Friday (Jan 11th).

“We don’t know anything about other bidders,” said Stover, “but we are extremely confident that our bid is a solid one and has the financial backing required. It has a good mix of local partners that have done mixed-use development before and have done it in this region, and it’s not tax-payer funded in any way so we’re sure that we’ll have bi-partisan support from local politicians. We believe that the project will have very meaningful short term and long term economic impact.”

 

Indeed, the proposal forecasts that the stadium will create more than 500 construction jobs and over 3,000 full-time permanent jobs with construction generating more than $500 million, concentrated in Nassau County, plus more than $200 million in revenue annually upon completion. The stadium could also host other games such as US national team qualifiers, friendly internationals etc.

 

Followers of the NY soccer scene may be getting a sense of deja-vu as similar plans have recently been proposed by MLS who are also planning to build their own soccer specific stadium a mere 10 miles from the proposed Belmont site in Flushing, Queens.

 

“For us, we are solely focused on this project,” Explained Stover. “We’re not concerned about competition with MLS and their concepts, and for us we’re just going to plough ahead and make every effort to cut a ribbon on this stadium in 2016. We hope to break ground in 2014 and we would expect to play in 2016.”

 

Interestingly, the site sits right on the border of NYC and Long Island, with a part of the stadium actually in Queens.

“We think it clicks a lot of boxes for us, with access either by car or by rail with LIRR. So it’s a good location not only for the club to develop a fan base in New York City, but also in Long Island and New York State. So the fact that we’re on the border and a piece of the land is in Queens is actually very beneficial.”