Maragos: Return of Cosmos soccer team could mean millions for Nassau

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos' spokesman Jostyn Hernandez

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos' spokesman Jostyn Hernandez said Maragos' midyear report on the status of the county’s finances was delayed because the county’s control board on Tuesday approved $136 million in Nassau borrowing, which “changes a lot of risk for the first six months.” (June 12, 2013) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

The return of the New York Cosmos soccer team to Long Island next month could generate up to $19 million in new annual revenue for restaurants, hotels, retail stores and other businesses, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos said Tuesday.

The Cosmos, a prominent professional team in the 1970s and 1980s, will play 14 home games at Hofstra's 15,000-seat James M. Shuart Stadium beginning Aug. 3.

The games would generate $18.9 million in annual economic activity if the team attracts capacity crowds to the stadium, Maragos said in a report. That figure would drop to $9.4 million if the stadium were half filled, and $4.7 million at 25 percent capacity.

"The Cosmos' return will give not only our local economy a boost but also a huge boost to the sport's popularity amongst our youth, who can now aspire to professional play," he said in a statement.

Nassau County is expected to receive $55,000 at 25-percent capacity, $111,000 at half capacity and $223,000 at full capacity in sales taxes from Cosmos games, the report said.

Cosmos games are exempt from the Nassau County's entertainment surcharge of $1.50 per ticket because games are played at a university facility.

The Cosmos have proposed a $400 million, privately funded, 25,000-seat stadium at Belmont Park, where they hope to begin play in 2016. The Cosmos will play in the new North American Soccer League, which is a level below the more established Major League Soccer, where the New York Red Bulls play.

The Cosmos' plan is competing with two other proposals.

On Monday, Assemb. Michaelle Solages and her brother, Legis. Carrié Solages, both Democrats from Elmont, held a protest against the proposed stadium, arguing it would be detrimental to the area.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), whose district includes about 50,000 voters in Elmont, also announced his opposition to the stadium, citing the lack of community support.

Cosmos chief executive Erik Stover said the stadium and related Belmont development "will have important and lasting economic and community benefits for the people of Long Island."

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