ELMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The Islanders are moving to Brooklyn, but will Long Island soon gain a professional soccer team?
The New York Cosmos have big plans for a soccer stadium on the Queens/Nassau County border.
But as CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday, not everyone’s a fan of the idea.
In the shadow of Belmont racetrack, sits a specific parking lot. However, soon, weeds could be replaced with stadium grass, and parking stalls with sidelines.
The Cosmos, a world famous franchise that was reborn recently following three decades of dormancy, has proposed a 25,000-seat privately funded soccer stadium for the site. Proponents say it’s just what Long Island needs to generate jobs and tax revenue.
“The whole idea of taking a weed-infested parking lot and replacing that with a state-of-the-art $400 million stadium, I think, just makes all the sense in the world,” said state Sen. Jack Martins (R-7th District)
The local soccer club president welcomed community fields.
“It’s going to have a wonderful thing for the community to participate in. It’s going to have a great deal of economic viability — and that’s why it’s a no-brainer,” Elmont Youth Soccer Club’s Richard Debrosse said.
But not everyone in Belmont’s backyard is cheering. Critics are going door to door gathering signatures against the stadium.
“Selling hot dogs just does not translate into sustainable economic development for any community,” Elmont community activist Aubrey Phillips said.
“We know crime will come up and we also know that traffic will be a nuisance, and we don’t want our property values to go down any further,” added Milagros Vicentre of the North Valley Stream Neighborhood Association.
Economically struggling Elmont doesn’t even have a supermarket.
“The soccer executives get something out of this deal, the state gets something out of this deal; however the community doesn’t get what it needs,” said Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages (D-Elmont).
The Cosmos said the development will help re-energize Belmont and the surrounding community with 3,000 full-time jobs, 500 construction jobs, a restaurant row and a 4.5-acre park.
Are Belmont Park and the vast empty parking lot the right place for a soccer mecca? The Empire State Development Corp. is evaluating competing bids and will make its decision any day.
Cosmos officials also said the development would not require taxpayer dollars.
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