In Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, players gather on the sidelines to rehydrate and discuss their game plan, both sides determined to win the scoreless soccer match. As the referee signals the second half, the teams return to the field, ready for a fight. This game is as professional as soccer gets in the park these days, but Major League Soccer (MLS) may be prepared to change that.
The MLS is set to add a 20th team to the league. This new team’s home could be the same park that hosted the 1939 and 1964 World’s fairs.
“We are thrilled about the prospect of being in Queens and bringing the world’s sport to the world’s park,” the MLS said in an official statement.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the MLS presented a proposal to area politicians for a 20,000 to 25,000 seat stadium slated for the northern end of the park.
“We are in explanatory discussions with the city and with Queens officials and look forward to working with the community to build a world-class soccer facility for all to enjoy,” a MLS spokesperson said.
For young athletes who use the park’s fields to play pick-up soccer games, a professional soccer organization would mean more than just a big stadium, cotton candy and loud fans.
“We would come watch the games and see the famous soccer players,” said Tarik Issa, 11, of Corona. “We would like to see how they practice.”
To these kids, learning the game from some of the best players in the world would be the best part about the MLS making its home in Queens.
“We could practice like them and get better so we can become professionals,” said Renzo Rodriguez, 11, of Corona.
Alex Ortiz of Bellerose, a parent and a soccer fan walked through the park Thursday with his two young children, both of whom were sporting soccer uniforms. Ortiz does not underestimate what the organization could mean to them.
“It would be great for the kids to get somebody to focus on what soccer means to the USA,” he said.
According to the Journal, the project is expected to create more than 2,000 construction jobs, 300 permanent full-time jobs and 900 part-time jobs. Plans are pending, so check back to the Queens Beat for continued updates.
Photo by Mike Gambina/Queens Beat