De Blasio begins ‘dialogue’ on Bronx soccer stadium

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Mayor Bill de Blasio has not given up on former mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal for a soccer stadium near Yankee Stadium.

"The de Blasio administration has begun a dialogue with key stakeholders on how to best proceed on the construction of a soccer stadium that also invests in community benefits, preserves public space and provides good-paying jobs," Marti Adams, a de Blasio spokesperson, told Capital.

Today, the New York Times reported that New York City Football Club, a team owned by Manchester City’s Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan and the Yankees, would have to play in Yankee Stadium for the next three years, because New York City's first professional soccer team still doesn't have a permanent home.

There's a reason for that.

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Finding the football club a permanent home was one of the primary late-term development goals for Bloomberg, whose office conducted a flurry of negotiations in his final months to secure the team a site in the Bronx.

In early December, the administration reached a tentative deal with the club to build a stadium just south of the site of the old Yankee Stadium.

The agreement required the team to underwrite the relocation of an apparently thriving elevator company on the site, and to reach a deal with investors holding bonds on the underwater parking lots built alongside Yankee Stadium.

But, to the professed consternation of then-mayor-elect de Blasio, the deal came with some indirect subsidies in the form of tax breaks and access to tax-exempt bonds.

“We have real concerns about investing scarce public resources and forgoing revenue to support the creation of an arena for a team co-owned by one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, and will review any plan with that in mind,” de Blasio’s then-spokeswoman, Lis Smith, told the Times.

Since then, whatever dialogue the administration has been participating in has been a muted one.

A City Hall spokesman declined to say who the adminstration was talking to.

Two knowledgeable sources told me they knew of no substantive administration efforts to reach a deal on the stadium.

In order for the old deal to acquire a new life, one of those sources told me that in addition to the intra-borough elevator company relocation and a deal with the bondholders, the New York City Football Club would have to be willing to move forward with no subsidies, direct or indirect.

"NYCFC is looking for a home, not simply a place to play," said soccer club spokeswoman Risa Heller, in a statement. "We are working with the Administration to find a world class site."