Erik Stover: “We’ve been so focused on getting our season up and running, and getting the team back together, that a longer-term stadium plan hasn’t been discussed yet.”
By Christian Arnold
Belmont is back in the news, but it’s not the Cosmos trying to develop the site.
National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman told members of The Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) Friday that the Islanders were planning on bidding to develop the site next to Belmont Racetrack when the state releases a Request For Proposal for the site. Belmont Park was the site the Cosmos hoped to build a 25,000-seat soccer stadium.
The Cosmos were one of four bidders on an RFP the state released in 2012, but later scrapped in last December.
The Empire State Development Corporation will release a new RFP for the site in the near future, Newsday reported last week (http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/barclays-center-pitch-would-return-islanders-to-nassau-coliseum-says-lia-chief-1.13450158), which could reopen the idea of soccer club pursuing a stadium at the Belmont site.
Cosmos Chief Operating Officer Eric Stover did not have a comment Friday when asked if that could be an option.
“At this point we wouldn’t have any comment on Belmont,” Stover told Front Row Soccer. “Not because we don’t have a comment, but because we haven’t discussed anything about the stadium planning yet. We’ve been so focused on getting our season up and running, and getting the team back together, that a longer-term stadium plan hasn’t been discussed yet.”
At the moment, the Cosmos haven’t heard anything from the state about an RFP at the Belmont site.
“If or when we hear that then we’ll have to discuss it internally and make a decision,” Stover said.
The Cosmos are in their first year of playing home games at MCU Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. The second division soccer team had spent the last four years playing at Shuart Stadium on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. A rocky relationship with Hofstra and fluctuating attendance plagued the team’s time in Suburban Long Island.
The two-time defending North American Soccer League champions saw a near sellout crowd for their season opener at MCU Park in early April. However, MCU Park is likely to remain a temporary home until the Cosmos can solidify a more permanent home in the New York area.
The Cosmos, who nearly folded in December before new owner Rocco N. Commisso saved the club, have not had much discussion yet about their future plans for a stadium.
“No we haven’t discussed anything to rule anything in or out,” Stover said.
In January 2013, the Cosmos proposed to finance and build a $400-million, 25,000-seat soccer-specific stadium. Besides the privately funded stadium, the Cosmos’ Elmont Town Crossings” project also included a 60,000-square foot area that would feature nine restaurants, some 250,000-square feet of retail space, that 175-room hotel, a community center, a 4.3-acre public park and soccer fields for the community.