NEW YORK — The hunt for a stadium site for a potential second MLS team in the New York metro area seems to be yielding results.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a media teleconference on Thursday that the league has looked at 19 potential locations for a stadium in the New York area in the last 18 months, and has begun narrowing down the applicant pool.
"We want to ensure that when this project is complete that we have the perfect site for a stadium," Garber said. "We'll take the time — as long as it takes — to ensure we have the right site. That's how important the second New York team project is."
Garber said that it was "premature to talk about any specific sites," but he ruled out one location: Belmont Park on Long Island.
"Belmont's not on the list," the Commissioner said. "We are focused on locations that have really strong public transportation access and are as close to the urban core as possible. And while Belmont's a good site and does have the Long Island Railroad right off of the cross island, it's not really close enough to the urban core in our view."
According to Garber, the New York Red Bulls have been supportive of the league's effort to bring a second MLS franchise to the New York area. Discussions of who might own that new club, however, won't make sense until the stadium project is well under way, the commissioner said.
"When the stadium's done, there'll be no shortage of owners who will line up and want to pay $100 million for our 20th team in New York," Garber said. "We are working closely with the mayor's office, and they have been a great resource for us in helping to steer us to sites that they think can be developed and work in areas where they think there will be great community support and a great opportunity to achieve success. We still have work to do to finalize even a timeframe for the 20th team in New York, but we continue to be optimistic."
A Boston stadium?
Though there was no specific update on the New England Revolution's pursuit of a soccer-specific stadium, Garber talked up the possibility of putting down roots in Boston.
"Our view is that if the Revolution have a soccer stadium in Boston, it'll be one of the best, most vibrant environments in the entire league," the Commissioner said. "We're going to continue trying to work to see if we can get that done. I have a breakfast with [Revs owner] Robert Kraft tomorrow, and I'm sure it'll be something we talk about."
Good news on D.C. stadium front
With D.C. United still working on changing their stadium situation, the Washington, D.C., City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday supporting the Black-and-Red's continued presence in the Nation's Capital, and calling for a long-term solution to keep them from packing up for Baltimore.
"I applaud the gesture and I hope that it is the beginning of a very quick path to finding a facility for the club," Garber said. "United and Events DC are in the final stages of working on an agreement that will restructure some of the financial aspects of the deal between the two of them. I think that's a positive sign, and another indication of the District's interest in working with D.C. United. Will [Chang, D.C. United owner] and Kevin [Payne, GM] are really committed to doing what they need to do to resolve the situation."
Despite the positive steps taken, Garber cautioned that nothing was guaranteed.
"Baltimore does remain an option for a stadium should they not be able to resolve their situation," he said. "But I very much appreciate and applaud the gesture that was made with the resolution that came out of the City Council."
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