Stadium financing authority Neil deMause weighed in on the Willets Point Development Project in a comprehensive piece for Gothamist on Tuesday (My favorite part? The story links to some of my reporting.)
After ten years of false starts, the place remains a quagmire and a soccer stadium seems like a pipe dream..
Last year, Councilmember Francisco Moya and Borough President Melinda Katz formed a task force to propose a plan for the site. Both lawmakers favor building a soccer stadium at the site.
In December, a community board member told me there are currently two plan proposals — a mixed-use project with some housing, retail and offices and a soccer stadium surrounded by some “ancillary” retail businesses and hotels
He also said that, despite the vague proposal, there is absolutely no movement to create the stadium and, at this point, no team to play there.
It’s hard to tell who is actually on the task force. There is little evidence of any task force activity or membership except for a blurry photo of a PowerPoint slide that lists “June Task Force meeting attendees.” It’s a who’s who of Queens Democratic Party insiders, including former U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley, chair of the Queens Dems, Councilmember Paul Vallone, Councilmember Peter Koo and State Assemblymember Jeff Aubrey along with representatives from a few local community boards, business groups and nonprofit organizations.
DeMause ran into the same issue I did when it comes to getting comment from the mysterious task force. No one is talking and no one seems to know who is on the committee. In fact, it may include just two people: Moya and Katz.
Katz has totally ignored all requests for comment from deMause and me. And Moya hasn’t said anything except for a short quote his spokesman gave deMause: “EDC is mulling over several elements that the task force has discussed.”
A coalition of community groups has also formed to oppose a stadium or any other high-profile project that doesn’t include at least 5,500 affordable housing units included in the original 2008 plan for the site.
While it seems that Queens is actually on the verge of getting a USL2 team named Queensboro United FC, it’s way more likely that team will play at an existing venue than get a new whole stadium built at Willet Point. I bet they play at Belson Stadium at St. John’s University. Belson has already hosted a few low-level teams like Brooklyn’s F.A. Euro and was the site of the 2016 NASL championship.
DeMause also thinks that the stadium is “uncertain at best”:
“Reading tea leaves, since Katz and Moya appear to be the only ones stumping for a stadium, and there’s no funding plan for one regardless, its future has to be considered uncertain at best. But then, so is the fate of any affordable housing at the site, more than a decade after the city first announced that it would be clearing Willets Point of its businesses to build a mixed-use complex.”