On May 21, 2013, New York City FC was christened by Major League Soccer with an agreement to play their home matches at Yankee Stadium, the home of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees, with a mandate to secure a soccer specific stadium in the future.
Over four and a half years later, NYCFC has unveiled its first detailed stadium proposal on the grounds at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York just outside the New York City limits on Long Island. Also presenting at the public hearing on Sunday were the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League who have a strong desire to break their current lease with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
For NYCFC, there are other viable venues targeted for a soccer specific stadium – Harlem River Yards, Willets Point and a nine-acre site near Yankee Stadium. The club is still active in formulating plans and negotiating with those factions and the City. NYCFC officials have repeatedly suggested that a position in one of the five boroughs would be ideal to establish a home in proximity to a majority of its fan base. Meanwhile, Islanders co-owner Jonathan Ledecky claims that the team has “blinders on for Belmont.”
The NYCFC redevelopment plan for Belmont Park includes a 26,000 seat stadium adjacent to the Long Island Railroad station and a pedestrian bridge across the Hempstead Turnpike to link the stadium to a 400,000 square foot entertainment and retail center. There would be 1,500 parking spaces, a 5.2-acre park plus a 2-acre soccer facility that would include eight fields managed by City Football Group partner, Goals Soccer Centres (Goals).
Compared to the Islanders plan, the NYCFC proposal redevelops nearly twice the acreage although the Islanders claim they will establish 400 more permanent jobs with their blueprint. Members of the Elmont community have expressed concerns about substantial traffic. With just 17 regular season home matches compared to 41 games for the Islanders, NYCFC officials suggest there would be far less congestion in the municipality.
Both NYCFC and the Islanders agree that there is no feasible plan that could include both franchises at Belmont Park which opened in 1905 and is the home to the third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.