As the proposal to build an MLS stadium in Queens is discussed, hundreds of residents in nearby communities have made their voices heard — and not everyone is happy.
Currently, three proposals exist, all of which would place a stadium win Flushing Meadows-Corona Park — one of which includes more than one stadium.
At a demonstration in Flushing over the weekend, the Fairness Coaltion of Queens said in no uncertain terms that they would fight any plan to place a new stadium on park land.
“I play soccer in the park,” said Luis Gonzalez, a group member. “Our community loves soccer. But that doesn’t mean we want a soccer stadium right in the middle of the park. The kids in our community desperately need open space to exercise. Childhood obesity is a major problem. Where are our kids supposed to play?
State Sen. Tony Avella, who recently announced he would be running for borough president, came out strongly against the plan to build a new stadium.
“I am opposed to any private development on public parkland. Parks are sacred public spaces. I urge these developers to go back to the map and find private land to pursue their plans for private gain,” said Avella. “We can’t afford to give tax breaks and other public subsidies to billionaires to take away our parkland. The communities of Queens need every inch of parkland they have and we need to invest in expanding parkland further.“
Anna Dioguardi of Queens Community House in Forest Hills said she was horrified by the thought of what the stadium could do to the dynamic in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
“The very nature of the park will be altered by introducing additional stadiums and a mall nearby. The park is currently a heavily used greenspace for both active recreation and passive enjoyment of families,” said Anna Dioguardi of Queens Community House. “The prospect of introducing an even larger crowds — many of whom, sports fans, who will have access to alcohol at games — is deeply disconcerting."
The group also said the addition of more roads and major buildings could have detrimental environmental impacts, as well, a big concern in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“Not only does the park provide a free place for families to exercise and relax -- it also helps absorb flooding,” said Donovan Finn, professor of Environmental Planning at SUNY Stony Brook. “Our park acts as a natural sponge during storms. If the Bloomberg Administration allows construction of a massive corporate stadium on wetlands there — what is to prevent storm surges from reaching surrounding communities of Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Corona and Flushing?”