Finally, the official announcement fans of New York City FC have longed for since the club’s inception has arrived: A soccer-specific stadium for NYCFC will be built in Queens. The arena will be a part of the next phase of development at Willets Point.
New York mayor Eric Adams and many of the key figures involved in this complex, multi-faceted “transformation” of Willets Point gathered at the Queens Museum in Flushing to unveil the ambitious plans that feature NYCFC’s stadium.
It took a few agonizingly long minutes of introductions and build-up, but eventually, Mayor Adams came out and said the lines we’ve been desperate to hear: “We are building a 100% privately financed Major League Soccer stadium. It will be New York City’s first professional soccer-specific stadium, and a permanent home for 2021 MLS Cup champions, New York City Football Club.”
Goooal! We’re kicking off a new era of housing and sports at Willets Point. Tune in if you’re a @NYCFC fan! https://t.co/lsDk5WE6xv— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) November 16, 2022
Adams and all those who spoke in his wake were extremely congratulatory to Queens City Council member Francisco Moya, who was repeatedly described as a key driver for getting a soccer stadium built in the borough.
Moya eloquently compared the prospect of a Queens soccer stadium to his own childhood days of playing soccer in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, saying “I dreamed of looking up and seeing a place where kids like me, kids from Corona, born with the love of soccer in their veins, could hope to play in.” Moya said he also wrote MLS commissioner Don Garber a letter in 2010 when he was first elected to political office calling for MLS to add a New York City-based expansion team, so he has been a persistent part of the MLS-to-Queens dream.
There was little in the way of details shared about the stadium during the event, but the year 2027 seemed to be the agreed-upon date for when to expect it open and host matches. The actual design has yet to be started: So far, just the one conceptual rendering of the exterior that was shared in the New York Times story has been circulated. More will certainly come out in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead—today was just something of an introductory spectacle.
Seeing the variety of speakers who took the mic at this unveiling underscored the intricacy of this level of development. A group that included Marty Edelman, City Football Group board member and NYCFC vice chairman, Jeff Blau, CEO of real estate behemoth Related Companies, and Gary LaBarbera, the influential construction union president, shows the wide scope of interests that overlap on getting a stadium built in New York City.
Few who spoke could refrain from forcing cheesy, cringe-inducing soccer puns, but ultimately none of that matters to fans of NYCFC, who finally had an occasion to sit back and enjoy a well-deserved win.
No more rumors and reading of tea leaves necessary: This prolonged back-patting session among some of New York’s political and economic elite may have been a bit of a bore to watch, but it matters not when the substance of the message is that a stadium for NYCFC is really coming.
Plenty of questions persist even with the stadium now announced. What will the team be doing for the bulk of its home matches over the next four seasons? Will Citi Field leapfrog Yankee Stadium on the Official Home Field Preference chart Brad Sims keeps, laminated, in the breast pocket of his blazer? Why did they make Keaton Parks and Alfredo Morales wear their kits only to stand on the stage for the announcement presser and barely be visible? Why was Nick Cushing there wearing a suit for maybe the first time in his life? Is it really going to take until 2027 to build this thing?
None of that matters at this moment, certainly not for the lucky supporters who got to gather at the Queens Museum to see this announcement in the flesh. All that’s left to do now is hope that all those power players gathered on stage today to announce this long-dreamed-for stadium can keep all the ducks in a row to ensure it rises as promised in the shadow of Citi Field, atop what was once F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Valley of Ashes.