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Proposed NY Cosmos stadium raises questions on NASL ambitions - National Soccer

Proposed NY Cosmos stadium raises questions on NASL ambitions - National Soccer

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The world-class 25,000-seat, $400 million Long Island stadium proposed by the New York Cosmo

The world-class 25,000-seat, $400 million Long Island stadium proposed by the New York Cosmo

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Published by: gamypoet3380 on Jul 27, 2014
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Proposed NY Cosmos stadium raises questions on NASLambitions - National Soccer 
The world-class 25,000-seat, $400 million Long Island stadium proposed by the New York Cosmoslast week raises questions about the ambitions of the Cosmos and the second division North American Soccer League (NASL), in which they'll play in 2013."We expect to field a team that will feature comparable talent as MLS franchises in a few short years," said New York Cosmos CEO Erik Stover.The Belmont Park stadium is a potential venue for World Cup and Olympic qualifying matches forthe U.S. national teams, international exhibition games, U.S. Open Cup matches and NCAA games.In fact, the proposed stadium seems a lot more like a first division facility than a second division venue, particularly as Major League Soccer's D.C. United and New England Revolution don't evenhave their own stadiums. Furthermore, MLS has been trying to install a second franchise in NYCwith a $300 million stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to rival the New York Red Bulls, butwithout visible results."We plan to develop an iconic project for the region and build a state-of-the-art stadium that willmake Nassau County and the entire region proud," said Seamus O'Brien, Chairman and investor of the New York Cosmos.Last summer, O'Brien entered the re-emerging Cosmos, owned by Saudi Arabia-based Sela Sport, inNASL to begin play in the second half of 2013 with home games at Hofstra University. At the time,NASL CEO and Traffic Sports USA president Aaron Davidson told me that the Cosmos will "lead theleague through the second stage of evolution and growth," indicating higher ambitions for NASL.Davidson also said that the nine-team league, entering it's third year of operation in 2013, will standat 14 teams by 2014 and continue to expand."Every pro league in North America needs 30-plus teams in order to make pro soccer relevant acrossthe region," said Davidson.Will NASL compete with MLS?Rumors are swirling that NASL may compete for dominance with MLS, recently harshly criticized byFIFA president Sepp Blatter on December 28.
"[The USA has] no very strong professional league, they have just the MLS," said Blatter. "They havenot professional leagues that are recognized by the American society. It is a question of time, Ithought, when we had the World Cup in 1994, but now we are 18 years in and it should have beendone now. They are still struggling."But Davidson's standards for a second division team may simply be closer to Blatter's concept of asecond division league in the richest country in the world. If that quality makes MLS look like asecond division league, then it's up to MLS to double-down on progress to achieve the internationalstandards of an elite first division league. While the quality of some MLS teams has grown by leapsand bounds and beautiful new stadiums and passionate fans groups have emerged and officiatingimproved, the overall quality of player still hold the league back and TV ratings are not what theyshould be. MLS has tight salary caps, no free agency, spring-to-fall schedule, nopromotion/relegation, rewards for under-performing teams and all of these areas are opportunitiesfor improvement.Davidson has strongly advocated clarity and cooperation between the various U.S. divisions anddevelopment systems and more player movement between the leagues, as done throughout the restof the world."People should be thrilled about what we're doing with NASL and the second division," saidDavidson. "Everyone needs to know their role in the game in this country and we're going to have towork really hard to define the role of the youth clubs, amateur clubs, fourth division, third division,second division and first division. People need to feel like they're part of the system."The Cosmos stadium complex proposalThe NY Cosmos submitted an economic development proposal to the State of New York for astadium at Elmont Town Crossing complete with nine new restaurants, 250,000 square feet of retailspace, a 175-room hotel, a Cosmos museum, and a new 4.3 acre public park for the community at acost of over $400 million. A soccer field will be built at the park and be open to local soccer teams,with the Cosmos also providing $2.5 million for development of community soccer fields.If approved, shovels will break ground in 2014, and the stadium would be completed and ready forplay in spring 2016 with the retail portion opening in fall 2015. The project would create more than500 construction jobs and over 3,000 full-time permanent jobs, which certainly makes local officials very excited about the Cosmos and their proposal."The NY Cosmos plan is a big win for Belmont and Elmont," said Sandra Smith, Chair of the ElmontCoalition for Sustainable Development. "Their proposal revitalizes our community, creates jobs andexpands the tax base. I can only think of one word to describe a plan that brings soccer, shopping, acommunity park and hotel to Elmont: GOAL!"Supporting the community Achieving public support by supporting the public with needs such as athletic fields for children iskey in a failing economy with massive unemployment and foreclosures and school funding cuts.Connecting community youth soccer to the professional game is also critical. While soccer is the No.1 youth sport in the United States, the high cost of proper club development prices the vast majorityof the population out of the competitive game at even the youngest age groups, where the critical

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