In news that has shaken up local sports circles, New York City officials have announced that the city’s first professional soccer stadium will be built in Willets Point, in Queens, right across the street from Citi Field, by 2027.
Not only will the new 25,000-seat venue be the home of the New York City Football Club, but it will effectively become the first major-league sports destination to be constructed in town since 2012.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a brand-new neighborhood, a Willets Point that offers real opportunity for working people and all New Yorkers,” said mayor Eric Adams in an official statement.
Here are five things to know about the new sports arena before construction even begins:
1. It Won’t Just be a Stadium
As explained by Adams during an official press event, the new stadium will actually sit in the middle of a 23-acre mixed-use development that will also include 2,500 housing units and a hotel with 250 rooms.
“Our plan will deliver 2,500 affordable homes—New York City’s largest fully affordable housing project in decades,” the politician said. “And with a fully privately financed soccer stadium, a hotel and local retail, we will create not only homes but also quality jobs, $6 billion in economic activity, and a true pathway to the middle class.”
2. The Soccer Team Will Pay for the Construction of the Stadium
The New York Times explains that the city owns the land where the development will be built and that the football club will lease it for 49 years, also paying for the construction of the stadium itself, which is currently estimated to cost around $780 million.
“The team will ultimately pay rent of up to $4 million a year to lease the land for the stadium,” notes the paper. “The team will have the option for a 25-year extension.”
3. The Project Will be Built With 100% Union Labor
According to an official press release, the New York City Football Club has chosen to build the new arena using union works.
“The New York City Football Club is clearly an organization that gets it,” said Patrick Purcell, Jr., the executive director of New York State Laborers’ LECET, in an official statement. “They are specifically choosing an urban area populated with a variety of businesses that soccer fans will patronize. They’re choosing a location that can benefit from affordable housing and the economic shot in the arm an influx of sports fans provides. Most of all—they’re choosing to have their stadium built by the most highly trained, skilled and capable workforce in New York City.”
4. The Project Has Been a Long Time Coming
As soccer fans know, the soccer team has been looking for a permanent home for over a decade, before the kickoff to its first ever-game. The search has spanned three different local administrations: Michael Bloomberg’s, Bill de Blasio’s and, now, Adams’.
After looking at over 20 different potential locations and even kicking off more official projects across some of them, officials have finally settled on Willets Point—a choice that particularly resonates with commissioner of Major League Soccer Don Garber, who has been arguing for the merits of building a destination in an urban area where, according to the New York Times, “fans can meet at nearby pubs and restaurants before and after matches, similar to many stadiums in Europe.”
5. The Soccer Team Will Play in Citi Field Until the New Stadium is Completed
As exciting as the news is, we’ve got a long way to go: the stadium won’t be built until, earliest, 2027. Until then, though, expect the team to play some of its games in Citi Field, in an effort to actually build a following in the borough.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.