The Cosmos bid for a stadium near, but not at, the M.L.S. dream site

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Giovanni Savarese. (New York Cosmos)
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The New York Cosmos have submitted a bid to build a stadium in Elmont, just a dozen miles from where Major League Soccer wants to erect a stadium of its own, in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

M.L.S. has plans to create a second team in the New York market to complement, and compete with, the New York Red Bulls franchise, which is based in Harrison, N.J.

The Cosmos are a new organization. Next season they'll be playing in the sub-major North American Soccer League. Their official position is that they don't necessarily want to be the second M.L.S. team in the New York market. But they are widely believed to want to be that team. 

The team responded to a state request for proposals to develop the south lot of the Belmont Park racetrack in Elmont, just over the Queens border in Nassau County.

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"I am pleased to inform you that one of the proposals that was submitted includes a comprehensive plan to build a professional soccer arena, shopping, community park, restaurants and a hotel on the south lot," wrote State Senator Jack Martins on Jan. 14 in a letter to the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development. "The plan, submitted by the New York Cosmos soccer team, calls for a $400 million investment of private funds. This plan is real, it has been submitted to New York State, and I am proud to have helped foster its submission."

A website called This Is Cosmos Country first posted the letter on Jan. 14. Martins' office told Capital the Cosmos submission was made in response to an R.F.P. issued by Empire State Development in September.

According to Joseph Rizza, a spokesman for Martins, approval of any plan would have to be made by the New York State Franchise Oversight Board.

Asked for further details, Brian Walker, a Cosmos spokesperson, emailed, "I can confirm that the Cosmos have submitted a bid and will likely announce details tomorrow."

Reached by phone, the team's chief operating officer, Erik Stover, declined comment.

The Cosmos' desire to build a stadium right over the border, and the organization's apparent ability to raise $400 million to do so, is interesting not only because of what it signifies in terms of the potential seriousness of the Cosmos, which have until now been a brand rather than an actual team, but also because of what it portends for Major League Soccer.

The fate of the M.L.S.'s proposed 25,000-seat arena in the middle of Flushing Meadows Corona Park remains unclear. The team is deep in negotiations with the city, and has a number of obstacles to overcome before its stadium becomes a reality. That's without figuring in the possibility of the Cosmos' yet-to-be-detailed plans for the Belmont location.

M.L.S.'s New York Red Bulls, playing in a beautiful soccer-only stadium in Harrison, N.J., have had trouble drawing fans consistently. 

A stadium in soccer-fan-heavy New York City might be a different story. But it's hard to know what to make of the possibility of two.

A spokeswoman for M.L.S. did not respond to a request for comment.