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The Mets want Major League Soccer in Citi Field, MLS says “no thanks”

Jan 4, 2013, 9:50 AM EDT

Citi Field

People in New York have been talking about building a Major League Soccer stadium in Queens. It’s apparently a controversial plan, and now the Mets are wading into the mess:

The Mets are “very interested and fully capable” of bringing Major League Soccer to Citi Field, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) announced Thursday. The move would boost the baseball team’s coffers and eliminate potential competition from a $300 million MLS soccer stadium proposed for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

The Mets confirm that they’re on board with such a plan. Major League Soccer doesn’t like the idea, calling it a “non-starter.”

And it’s pretty understandable why. They’ve spent the past 15 years moving teams from inappropriate and ill-fitting football stadiums and the like into soccer-specific stadiums which (a) are way, way better for players and fans in terms of functionality and aesthetics; and (b) are way better for the league and team owners financially. Why, then, the league would want to put soccer in a baseball stadium with what one can only assume are the worst sight lines imaginable is beyond me.

Building a soccer stadium may not be a fantastic idea in and of itself — there is serious opposition to it there for a lot of understandable reasons — but cramming a soccer team in a major league ballpark makes very little sense.

  1. mattyflex - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Sporting KC (formerly the Wizards) used to play in Arrowhead. I feel like the idea was “what if soccer doesn’t work in the states?”. I distinctly remember going to a game where there were less than 3,000 people there. Last game I went to, there were over 20,000. I think from a financial perspective it was a more safe, low-risk move by introducing soccer to the states without digging themselves into a huge hole. Now that it’s starting to take off, I completely agree that teams need their own, devoted stadiums.

    • mattyflex - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      More on that…

      There’s a table halfway down the page that shows that the MLS now ranks #7 overall for attendance per game.

      • kopy - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:39 PM

        Impressive as it is that the 18.8k in live attendance per game the MLS attracts is good enough for 7th among all soccer leagues, it’s also fun to mention that number puts the MLS above NBA and NHL and behind only NFL and MLB (and maybe CFL? I dunno) in North America.

  2. fanofevilempire - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    might as well, nobody goes there to watch baseball.

    oh boy!

  3. sdelmonte - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    This is being floated as an alternative to building a soccer stadium outright in Queens. Which the MLS wants to do, since there would be a potentially large audience in the most ethnically diverse county in the US. For whatever reason, the Wilpons seem to be determined to be part of this.

    They did play a couple of soccer games at Citi already. And I found this blogger who said that pre-fence moving, the sightlines were great:

  4. Ralph - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    Yeah, MLS has been pushing it’s teams to get out of shared-usage arenas for the past 13 years and right now there are only 2 stadiums that are shared between MLS and NFL (Seattle and New England). The MLS is VERY against shared usage now, as it’s trying to raise its visibility and awareness.

    Good analysis, Craig. The sightlines in MLB stadiums do not fit for soccer. You need to be able to view the whole pitch, and with a place like Citi Field, you just won’t be able to get that luxury.

  5. nymets05 - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    They should make their first priority getting MLB at Citi,then worry about soccer.

  6. Ben - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Why would they want to? MLS probably is the 4th largest sport in America now that the NHL has slit its own throat. The MLS were about to be more watched on TV than the NHL last year anyway. Not to mention American demographic changes are rather on the side of the MLS.

  7. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    That visual says it all – in the new MLS stadiums, you are right on some portion of the action no matter where you sit. Citi Field would be a disaster “worst sight lines imaginable” indeed

  8. kirkvanhouten - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    MLS doesn’t just want a soccer stadium in Queens, they want to take a large chunk of Flushing-Corona Park to build it in.

    And what would NYC residents get in return for having their public parkland, paid for with taxpayer dollars, being decimated for a for-profit private enterprise?

    “The stadium is considered a legacy project for the Bloomberg administration, which has outlined terms of a prospective deal: a 35-year, $1-a-year lease, with no sales taxes on construction materials, no property taxes and no revenue sharing with the city.”–Crains

    A stadium doesn’t need to be directly publicly financed to completely rip off the city and the taxpayers. This looks like another wonderful part of the business-over-people mentality of the Bloomberg administration.

    • twil5 - Jan 10, 2013 at 7:09 AM

      You do realize that the stadium will be 100% privately financed don’t you? You’re an idiot. Queens is getting A LOT out of the deal. The MLS is paying for the stadium themselves, creating jobs building the stadium, REPLACING all of the parkland (which isn’t that much since it’s being built on industrial pond) that they take somewhere else, fixing broke down soccer fields that thousands of kids play on BEFORE the start construction, inspiring kids to pursue their dreams of playing soccer professionally, bringing revenue into the area, and they’ve talking about beautifying the ENTIRE park as a whole. That’s an amazing deal. If you don’t see that you’re just being a whiny prick.

      • kirkvanhouten - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:34 AM

        The first mark of a good arguement is when you have to throw out “idiot” for no discernible reason. So, allow this “idiot” to go through your arguments one by one.

        1. “he MLS is paying for the stadium themselves,”

        True, but unlike any other business venture, they are getting tax-free public parkland to build it on and have to pay no taxes on construction materials. This isn’t direct public financing, what it is a shady way of hiding millions in tax dollars the will no longer get.

        2. “creating jobs building the stadium”

        Multiple studes have been shown to prove that stadiums to not create jobs or have any type of economic benefit to a city. The number of studies showing this is massive, yet people still throw out this line in direct opposition of the evidence.

        3. “REPLACING all of the parkland”- You left out the park where that replaced parkland will be on the toxic banks of the Flushing River…also how well that replacement parkland worked for the new Yankees stadium.

        4, “fixing broke down soccer fields that thousands of kids play on BEFORE the start construction, inspiring kids to pursue their dreams of playing soccer professionally” This is hilarious. The Flushing Soccer fields are broken? Since when?

        Hey here’s an idea, *let’s just take the millions in taxpayer money that is being lost for in terms of stadium tax breaks and just fucking fix the soccer fields ourselves!*.

        5. ” bringing revenue into the area,”

        Again, see #2. Numerous studies have been done to show that stadiums do not provide a positive economic impact at all.

        6. “That’s an amazing deal. If you don’t see that you’re just being a whiny prick”

        Again, you are apparently forced to resort to petty insults to get your point across? Are you six-years-old?

        So, we have sussed out that you base your arguments on the faulty assumption that stadiums generate revenue for the city while ignoring the millions in tax breaks and history of new stadium deals in New York. People who support this are deeply mislead about how these types of deals work.

        But hey, if you really believe every word that MLS is saying, I have some magic beans I can sell you.

  9. Jackson - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Of course this has nothing to do with the Wilpon’s current financial situation either.

  10. w2lucky - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    The Wilpon’s have destroyed the Mets, refuse to sell them, the fans are disgusted and don’t want to watch a losing team. How can we make some money now that the bills are due and we have a new stadium? Let’s invite MLS to Citi Field. I have a better idea. Sell the Mets to someone who wants to put a winner on the field. Problem solved.

  11. oregoncoastdailynews - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    the Portland (Oregon) Beavers were forced out of PGE park when owners of the Portland Timbers decided to focus on soccer only. The Beavs are a gypsy team, and the Timbers aren’t doing as well as expected. Sad for baseball fans…

    • sometimesimisscandlestick - Jan 4, 2013 at 7:38 PM

      Since I’ve been exiled to the Portland area, the AAA Beavers were the team to watch when I needed my baseball fix. Before the Timbers took over, I thought it was a great place to watch a game. And that’s only part of the reason I am anti-soccer. :)

      • Michael - Jan 8, 2013 at 1:09 AM

        It wasn’t all that long ago that Portland paid out bucks to upgrade PGE Park for baseball and hosted some spring training games, hoping to attract an MLB team who needed to move at a moment’s notice.

        But the money didn’t flow from that direction, so soccer it was.

    • futbolhistorian - Jan 5, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      If by not doing as well as expected, you mean a season ticket waiting list that now exceeds 10,000 ….

  12. pooinyourface - Jan 4, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    if the city allows a soccer stadium built I woukd be fuming mad that they wouldnt allow the Jets to build a stadium there. Jets belong in NY im so sick of this Jersey crap

  13. mazblast - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    Mets baseball. Soccer. Mets baseball. Soccer.

    I’d lose if I watched either.

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