M.T.A. chair can envision facilitating a Queens soccer stadium, with some crucial ‘ifs’

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A possible site for a stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. (d.p.hetteix via Flickr)
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M.T.A. chairman Joe Lhota said he's not opposed to a Major League Soccer-backed proposal to build a $300-million soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, one which might require a piece of M.T.A. land. 

"Am I opposed to it? Absolutely not," Lhota told Capital, in his first public comments on the matter.

Major League Soccer is pushing to build a soccer stadium in Queens' Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, near lots of soccer fans, and Lhota's support may well be crucial to the league's ability to build there.

That's because the league's plan would involve nine acres of parkland. In order to turn that land over to a private entity, a legislative process called alienation, the loss would have to be made up for elsewhere.

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The league is considering two spots where parkland could be created, according to the  Daily News: one near an abandoned airport, the other near some neglected Long Island tracks, which are controlled by the M.T.A.

"We've got to find land in roughly the same area," Bloomberg recently said. "There is land on an M.T.A. site, which everybody said, 'Let's get that.' I have not talked to (MTA chairman) Joe Lhota, and I don't know how practical it is, and how much Joe needs that land for other things. Before we go spending or taking away Joe Lhota's land, maybe we should ask him."

Asked about that, Lhota, whose M.T.A. runs the Long Island Railroad, expressed conditional support.

"If we have a piece of property that's not determined to be used for a future transit need and we own it and it's available yes, we're in the business of shedding assets to help us financially," he said. "And under the law we can sell assets as long as it's a fair market value."