Just as things seem to be moving forward with NTCFC’s new stadium plans at Willets Points in Queens, there may be a new plot twist in this unfolding drama, and the Pigeons may be facing a new stadium foe in the form of Mets’ owner Steve Cohen.
While things seem to be on the level between NYCFC and the New York Mets currently, given the fact that the Pigeons play some of their home matches at Citi Field, there could be some drama down the road that could throw a proverbial monkey wrench in the new NYCFC soccer stadium plans. Despite having a green light from the city of New York, the Willets Point stadium project may now have a new stadium foe coming to the forefront.
Hudson River Blue has done an outstanding piece on the brewing conflict between the Willets Point soccer stadium plan and the Mets’ owner Steve Cohen. At the heart of this burgeoning controversy is a potential fight over parking space – yes, parking lot space. Currently, NYCFC plays some of their home matches at Citi Field when the Mets aren’t in town, and their fans have access to the Citi Field parking lot- all 50 acres of it. While parking space doesn’t necessarily make headlines in terms of stadium deals, it should be noted that NYCFC originally had to abandon a proposed stadium plan in the Bronx over parking issues with the New York Yankees (and ironically, the Yankees still have a business investment in NYCFC.)
Who is Steve Cohen?
For those of you who don’t know who Steve Cohen is, he’s a hedge fund figure with deep pockets, and his ability to fight NYCFC over parking lot issues does merit some concern.
Cohen and his private equity firm SAC (Steve A. Cohen) pled guilty back in 2013 to insider trading violations and paid an enormous $1.8 billion fine for his illegal trading. In addition, Cohen is permanently barred from any further trading by the SEC. Apparently, Major League Baseball has been able to look the other way since Cohen brings lots of money to the table in the sports world.
A Parking Lot or a Casino?
At the crux of Steve Cohen’s objections to a soccer stadium at Willets Point is his apparent plans to utilize some of the Citi Field parking lots into a casino.
While the city of New York has approved the Willets Point plan for a new stadium for NYCFC, Cohen has brought up a point of contention in his future casino plans – all of which could provide him with the leverage necessary to cause problems for NYCFC right now as tenants at Citi Field.
Where is This Conflict Heading?
Inevitably and regrettably, this looming parking lot conflict really isn’t about a parking lot but about one team owner’s goal with available land versus another team’s stadium goals.
Could we expect some litigation brewing in the not-so-distant future?
If anything, any real estate transaction in New York is big business, and the Willets Point project truly is big business. Let’s hope that some sort of agreement in writing can be worked out between the key players in this project so that NYCFC can build a stadium of their own and finally home a proper home for the Pigeons and their fans.