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Cosmos detail plans for proposed soccer stadium at Belmont Park

The Elmont Union Free and Floral Park-Bellerose school

The Elmont Union Free and Floral Park-Bellerose school districts held a public forum Thursday, May 7, 2015, on plans by the New York Cosmos to build a 25,000-seat soccer stadium, 175-room hotel and retail complex at Belmont Park. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Supporters and opponents of a proposed 25,000-seat soccer stadium, hotel and retail complex at Belmont Park packed a Floral Park school Thursday to hear details of the $400 million privately funded development.

The meeting, hosted by the Elmont and Floral Park-Bellerose school districts, drew about 300 residents.

Erik Stover, chief operating officer of the Cosmos soccer club, said development of the 36-acre, state-owned property will revitalize the Elmont community.

"We want to bring jobs and businesses, something that will impact the community 365 days per year," Stover said.

The Cosmos want to build a soccer stadium, 175-room hotel, nine restaurants, a community center, retail stores, movie theater and a 4.3-acre public park. Construction would take about two years.

The stadium would be located on a 28-acre parcel on the southeast corner of Hempstead Turnpike and the Cross Island Parkway. The hotel, park and retail complex would be on the northern section of the property near Belmont's racetrack. Stover said agreements have not yet been reached with any project tenants.

The club will also spend $2 million to build and refurbish soccer fields throughout Nassau county.

Cosmos officials said the project will create 500 construction jobs, 800 permanent jobs on site and generate more than $200 million in annual revenue.

"We need taxpayer revenue," said Michael Marsh, an Elmont resident. "Yes, it will bring traffic. But traffic means cars, and cars mean money."

But Elmont resident Patrick Nicolosi, president of the East End Civic Association, contends the project will do little to assist Elmont homeowners and businesses. He said the state should restart the process to allow for residential development at the site. "This site should be Central Park East," Nicolosi said.

In February 2013, the Cosmos and three other developers -- who have proposed retail and recreation complexes -- made presentations to the Empire State Development Corp. for the Belmont property. ESDC officials say they are close to finalizing their decision.

Stover said the delays have forced him to consider alternate sites for the project in Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Westchester and New Jersey. He declined to identify them. "Belmont remains our first choice and we are waiting patiently," he said. "But we are also doing our due diligence, and we have three or four other sites that we really like."

Last month, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he wanted to lure the Cosmos to Coney Island.

The Cosmos, one of the most popular American teams in the 1970s, folded in 1985, but was reborn in 2012 in the new North American Soccer League, considered a step below the more established Major League Soccer. The Cosmos now play their home games at Hofstra University's James M. Shuart Stadium, where they averaged about 6,000 fans per game during the past two years.

Stover said he's confident attendance will grow significantly once the Belmont stadium opens. The stadium, he said, could also be used for rugby and cricket games as well as community soccer events.

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