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MLS interested in building stadium in Flushing

Joel Lindpere of the New York Red Bulls

Joel Lindpere of the New York Red Bulls heads the ball during the game against Chivas USA at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls and Chivas USA play to a 1-1 tie. (May 23, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Major League Soccer representatives have begun discussions with Queens officials to build a soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The proposed venue would hold between 20,000-25,000 on eight acres in the northern section of the park.

The stadium would be home to an expansion team, which the league has tried to bring to New York for years.

"We are thrilled about the prospect of being in Queens and bringing the world's sport to the world's park," MLS president Mark Abbott said Friday.

The league plans to pay for the facility and use the venue to attract the expansion team. MLS commissioner Don Garber has said that once a stadium was built in New York, there would be no problem finding an owner.

"Queens is the most ethnically diverse area in the country," Queens Chamber of Commerce executive director Jack Friedman said. "The whole thing makes a lot of sense."

Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., which opened in 2010 and is home to the Red Bulls, cost more than $250 million.

"It's win-win for Queens," said State Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Corona), who estimated that the stadium will create 2,000 construction jobs, 900 part-time jobs and 300 full-time jobs.

The project also fits the league's criteria of having public transportation near the stadium. The subway and LIRR stations are short walks. To ensure as little traffic congestion as possible, MLS agreed not to schedule games when the Mets are at home at Citi Field or during the first week of the U.S. Open, Friedman said.

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) said she was concerned about whether there was "going to be enough parking." A site inspection is scheduled for later this month, she added. The project still needs approval from the State Assembly and Senate.

The stadium, which would be built over the Fountain of Planets, would displace seven soccer fields that are used by dozens of youth and adult teams. MLS has agreed to build seven new fields, Friedman said.

"Major League Soccer not only wants to expand its franchise, they want to have youth programs, adult soccer programs, child obesity programs, all based around soccer," he said.

MLS also has agreed to create eight acres of parkland elsewhere to compensate for the new stadium.

"We're engaged with Major League Soccer on their evaluation efforts and think it would be great if they came to New York City," Julie Wood, the mayor's deputy press secretary, Wood said.

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