New York Cosmos eye Mitchel Field as practice facility

The New York Cosmos soccer team has a The New York Cosmos soccer team has a proposal to rehabilitate Field 6 at Mitchel Field and turn it into their primary practice facility in Uniondale. (April 4, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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The New York Cosmos soccer franchise wants to spend more than $400,000 to rehabilitate a dilapidated, dry dirt field at Mitchel Field and transform it into the team's new practice facility.

The Cosmos, a renowned soccer club in the 1970s that was revived last year, were the lone bidder on a request for proposals issued by the county last month to develop the field.

The 10-year lease agreement calls for the Cosmos to fund the renovations and to pay Nassau rent on the land in Uniondale.

"The Cosmos' permanent practice facility here in Nassau County presents opportunities for youth athletics as well as builds on the administration's sports-entertainment-tourism plan," said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.

The Cosmos would spend $409,000 to improve Field 6 by adding new soil, grass, grading, fencing and improving drainage and irrigation. The renovations would take about three months to complete.

The team would pay the county $7,500 in annual rent during each of the first five years of the lease. In years six and seven, the team would pay $32,400 in annual rent; in years eight and nine the Cosmos would pay $44,000, and in year 10, $56,400.

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The team also would spend $20,000 to renovate a nearby locker room.

County officials said the field is rarely utilized and is covered by a mix of gravel, mud, rocks and torn-up grass. The plan calls for the Cosmos to use the renovated field from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. five days a week during the soccer season. The public would be allowed to use the facility at all other times.

Cosmos chief operating officer Erik Stover said the plan "greatly helps the community on Long Island and will increase revenues for the Nassau County Parks Department."

The contract must be approved by the county legislature.

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) called it "a win-win proposal" that will bring "additional usage to a field that is currently underutilized."

Democratic lawmakers have not reviewed the proposal and weren't ready to comment, said spokesman Michael Florio.

The Cosmos separately have proposed building a 25,000-seat soccer stadium at Belmont Park, while two other bidders have proposed a mix of retail and recreation at the site. The State Economic Development Corp. is expected to decide on a plan by late spring.

The Cosmos will play in the North American Soccer League. The team will debut in the 2013 fall season and initially play home games at Hofstra.

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