Cosmos release details of their bid for a stadium, and maybe leverage

Rendering of the proposed Cosmos stadium. (Populous via the Cosmos)
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Today, the New York Cosmos officially released the details of their bid to build a stadium in Elmont, Long Island, about seven miles from Major League Soccer's dream stadium site in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The proposal calls for a 25,000-seat arena on the south lot of Belmont Park, accompanied by nine restaurants, 250,000-square feet of retail, a 175-room hotel, and a 4.3 acre public park.

As I reported late yesterday, the Cosmos put the cost at $400 million, or $100 million more than the price tag of the proposed M.L.S. stadium in Queens.

The Cosmos, who are largely owned by the Saudi Arabian Sela Sport and play in the second-tier North American Soccer League, say the project would be privately funded and would create 500 construction jobs and more than 3,000 full-time jobs.

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Much as M.L.S. has promised to rebuild the seven public soccer fields surrounding the site, the Cosmos are promising to put $2.5 millon toward community soccer fields.

(Unlike M.L.S., the Cosmos were able to supply a quote from Pele, who played in the prior, ultimately failed iteration of the NASL: "I'm happy to see the New York Cosmos bringing resources together, to create a permanent place for our generations of fans to call home. And I am pleased with any project that gives back to the community.")

The team says it envisions breaking ground in 2014 and completing the project by 2016.

Much as M.L.S. has retained the services of an architecture firm with experience building stadiums in New York, the Cosmos have hired Populous, which designed the new Yankee stadium.

The Cosmos are widely believed to be interested in eventually becoming the M.L.S.'s second team in the New York market. And until recently that seemed to be a very safe assumption.

But now the Cosmos are officially neutral on the question of joining M.L.S., which, officially, is entertaining multiple prospective bids from would-be second franchises.

The Cosmos' stadium bid could serve as leverage in eventual negotations with M.L.S. 

Read the whole release below:

ELMONT, N.Y. – The New York Cosmos announced today that they have submitted a privately-funded economic development proposal to the State of New York to build a world-class 25,000-seat professional soccer stadium. Elmont Town Crossing will involve transforming two sections of Belmont Park into a vibrant entertainment complex, with 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.

The proposed development, which will be privately-funded, was formally delivered to the Empire State Development Corporation on January 11th and is expected to cost more than $400 million. It would create more than 500 construction jobs and over 3,000 full-time permanent jobs. Construction alone would generate more than $500 million, concentrated in Nassau County, plus more than $200 million in revenue annually upon completion.

The Cosmos are fully committed to giving back to the community and local residents. In addition to the stadium and the public park, a smaller soccer field will also be built on the premises and the proposal also includes a commitment to beautify the surrounding landscape. The site will be open to local soccer teams to practice and play on, with the Cosmos also pledging $2.5 million for the redesign and development of community soccer fields.

“We plan to develop an iconic project for the region and build a state-of-the-art stadium that will make Nassau County and the entire region proud,” said Seamus O’Brien, Chairman and CEO of the New York Cosmos. “Belmont is an ideal location and a win-win for everyone involved. Nassau County and Elmont will realize much needed economic growth, and local residents will have a year-round premier destination they can call their own.”

"I'm happy to see the New York Cosmos bringing resources together, to create a permanent place for our generations of fans to call home. And I am pleased with any project that gives back to the community," said legendary Brazilian forward Pelé, who played for The Cosmos from 1975-1977.

Elmont Crossings will feature new transportation improvements, including improved access, enhanced parking options and better circulation for vehicles and pedestrians. These improvements will complement existing connections to the Cross Island Parkway and public transportation links such as the Long Island Rail Road, MTA bus and Nassau Intercounty Express (NICE) bus.

If approved, shovels will break ground in 2014, and the stadium is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, with the field being installed and stadium opening in spring 2016. Retail establishments are expected to open in the autumn of 2015.

The construction of the stadium will expose Long Island to soccer games from around the world at an affordable price. The stadium is a potential venue for events such as World Cup and Olympic qualifying matches for the U.S. Men’s and Women’s national teams, exhibition games with world-class foreign teams, U.S. Open Cup matches and NCAA games. Stadium events will not be held on the same day as major racing days, such as the Belmont Stakes. Furthermore, the on-premises hotel for fans of both soccer and horseracing will help provide a further boost to the local economy in Elmont.

The project brings in an array of experts in development, construction and architecture: Populous, the world’s leading design firm, which designed the new Yankee Stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Sun Life Stadium in Miami and the plan for the 2012 Olympics in London; Spector Group, which is leading the master plan for the Bronx Mental Health Redevelopment Projects and was a part of planning for The Alfonse D’Amato Federal Courthouse in Central Islip and the RXR Reality office complex in Uniondale; and Cameron Engineering, which was a part of such projects as the Molloy College Master Plan, the South Nassau Communities Hospital parking improvement initiative and the St. Joseph’s College Athletic Complex.

The construction will be led by Turner Construction, which provided services for the new Yankee Stadium and the Barclays Center and McKissack and McKissack, which provided construction for Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and Washington Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

“This project, bringing a stadium, retail, restaurants and a park for the local community is just the shot in the arm our local economy needs,” said Kevin Law, Long Island Association President and CEO. “Long Island has been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn. Elmont Town Crossings will enable us to take a step forward.”

Elmont Memorial High School Principal John Capozzi said, “We are 100 percent behind the Cosmos. No other organization has come to Elmont with a proposal like this. Our community thrives on soccer. Bringing professional soccer and a field for our kids to play on to Elmont would mean the world to us.”

Sandra Smith, Chair of the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development, said, “The NY Cosmos plan is a big win for Belmont and Elmont. Their proposal revitalizes our community, creates jobs and expands the tax base. I can only think of one word to describe a plan that brings soccer, shopping, a community park and hotel to Elmont: GOAL!"

The New York Cosmos are committed to taking their dream of a professional, world class soccer stadium and bringing it to the people who need it most. This development will provide a necessary economic boost to Elmont and Nassau County, and put Belmont Park back on stable financial footing.

It is currently being reviewed by the Empire State Development Corporation. Renderings are attached. More information and additional renderings can be found at www.newcosmosstadium.com.

UPDATE: Cosmos COO Eric Stover talked to me about the proposal, and denied it had anything to do with leverage in negotiations with the league.

CORRECTION: The original version estimated the distance between Belmont and Flushing Meadows Corona Park as "less than 12 miles." This is technically correct but wrong, really: the distance is closer to seven miles.