Cosmos propose $400M soccer stadium at Belmont

This is an illustration of the 25,000-seat stadium

This is an illustration of the 25,000-seat stadium that the New York Cosmos soccer team is proposing for a corner of Belmont Park in Elmont. The project would include a 175-room hotel, restaurants, retail stores and a public park on the northern section of the property near the racetrack. (Credit: Handout )

The revived New York Cosmos, a once-prominent professional soccer franchise in the 1970s, have proposed construction of a $400 million, privately funded, 25,000-seat stadium at Belmont Park in Elmont, team officials said Tuesday.

The plan includes a 175-room hotel, restaurants, retail stores and a public park on the northern section of the property near the racetrack.

Team officials said the project would create more than 3,000 full-time permanent jobs and generate $200 million in annual revenue.

"It will become a destination and it will put Elmont on the map," Seamus O'Brien, chairman and chief executive of the Cosmos, said in an interview Tuesday. "It will become a facility that will be renowned, not just in North America but worldwide."

Team officials hope to break ground on the outdoor stadium, which would be located on a 28-acre parcel on the southeast corner of Hempstead Turnpike and the Cross Island Parkway, early next year. The retail stores and restaurants would open in the fall of 2015, and the stadium would be ready for games in the spring of 2016, O'Brien said.

The plan, submitted Friday to the State Economic Development Corporation, calls for 2,500 parking spots near the stadium, with thousands more spots available about a mile away near the racetrack.

Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), whose district includes Elmont, said the project could recoup much of the revenue the county and local businesses could lose when the New York Islanders depart the Nassau Coliseum for Brooklyn in 2015.

"This is a game changer for Nassau County and for the area as a whole," he said.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano called the proposal "an exciting prospect that will create jobs and complement Nassau's sports entertainment tourism plan."

O'Brien said the team would consult with the Long Island Rail Road about renovating the Belmont train station, which operates on a limited basis for racing events. An LIRR spokesman declined to comment.

During the 1970s, the Cosmos were one of the nation's most successful soccer franchises, with well-known players such as Brazilian star Pelé. The team folded in 1984 but was re-created last year to play in the new North American Soccer League.

The North American Soccer League -- which is unrelated to the league of the same name where the Cosmos played in the 1970s and 1980s -- is a level below the more established Major League Soccer, where the New York Red Bulls play.

The Cosmos will begin playing home games in August at Hofstra's James M. Shuart Stadium.

Disclosure of the Belmont plans came just weeks after MLS commissioner Don Garber said his organization was "at the finish line" in talks with the city to acquire the land to build a stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for an expansion team that would begin play in 2016.

O'Brien said he expected to move forward with the Belmont project regardless of the Queens stadium. An MLS spokesman declined to comment on the Belmont plans.

Martins said he knows of at least one other proposal that was submitted in response to a request for proposals by the state EDC's for development at the Belmont property, but was unaware of the details. A state EDC spokesman said they were in the process of reviewing the proposals but declined to elaborate. The state-owned property is not subject to Hempstead Town zoning regulations.

The project has the support of many local community groups and lawmakers.

"It's something that the community wants and definitely needs," said Sandra Smith, chairwoman of the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development. "It exceeds all of our expectations."

Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) called it "a great proposal for the area and something the local community has wanted for quite a long time."

With John Jeansonne

The proposal

 

The New York Cosmos soccer team has submitted a $400 million proposal to redevelop Belmont Park. The plan for the project, which would be built with private funds, calls for:

A 25,000-seat professional soccer stadium, capable of hosting home games for the New York Cosmos and events including World Cup qualifying matches for the U.S. Men's and Women's national teams.

A 60,000-square-foot restaurant row, featuring nine restaurants

Nearly 250,000 square feet of retail space on two levels

A 175-room hotel

A community center that could be used for neighborhood meetings

Community soccer fields at a cost of $2.5 million

A footbridge connecting the northern and southern portions of the site

Improved lighting, streetscape enhancements and landscaping

An overpass over the Cross Island Parkway connecting the hotel and restaurants to the stadium

Source: New York Cosmos

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