According to Brian Lewis in the NY Post, MLS Commissioner Don Garber has reopened negotiations with Mets Owners Jeff and Fred Wilpon over a second MLS franchise based in Queens. They've been down this road before two years ago in 2008. Will it work out this time or is it just idle speculation that will not materialize.
There are several issues regarding whether this will happen:
The first one is where NY 2 and their stadium would be if it came to fruition. The Wilpon's plan is to build a soccer-specific stadium across the street from Citi Field in Willets Point. The Wilpons are desperate to get this land developed, currently chop shops and other unsavory things in stark contrast to the shiny new baseball stadium. Mayor Bloomber is also keen on developing the land, working since Citi Field opened last year to claim eminent domain over the land and evict the landowners. when this does happen (And at this point it is a question of when not if), it would still be several years before the stadium would be constructed. A reasonable target date would be either the 2015-20116 season for its opening.
A major issue is the Wilpon's finances. If you didn't know, the Wilpons were one of the many investors that lost a lot of money in the Bernie Madoff scandal. There were strong rumors that they were on the verge of selling some of their stake in the Mets. This didn't happen, but they did loose as lot of money in the debacle. Add to that the Mets ticket sales are down dramatically this year, and one has to question whether the Wilpons have the finances available to invest in a team.
Another Issue, believe it or not, is Charles Wang's Islanders and the fate of the Lighthouse Project in the Town of Hemstead. If you are unfamiliar with what has been happening, check out either Nick Giglia at Let There be Light(house) or Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank. Basically the Islanders are free agents looking for a new arena. Queens has been publicly wooing the team and the area across from Citi Field is often discussed as where the new arena would go. Lately too there have been stories that the Wilpons have been in discussions with Wang about either a partnership including the arena or the Wilpons outright purchasing the team from Wang. If the later happens, NY2 will not happen under the Wilpons. I talked about this a bit over at Dom's Lighthouse Hockey and a few readers over there thought that this was more a ploy by the Wilpons to force Wang's hand.
So where does this stand? Is NY2 any closer to happening? The MLS desperately wants it to, all you have to do is look at some of the quotes on the subject from Don Garber:
"They're still trying to figure out what they might be able to do with the land outside Citi Field. There are very few places to have a stadium in the New York metropolitan area; Queens is one of those prime locations and we'd love to see if we can try to make something work there.''
"I think it's quite the contrary. Soccer is all about regional, local, neighborhood rivalries,'' Garber said. "It's what makes the sport so powerful in Europe. It's not just cities playing against each other like they do in American sports.
"To get that inside a particular market _ the Clasico in Los Angeles, a great event twice a year _ being able to have that in New York City would be great for the league, it'd be great for the Red Bulls. They're very supportive of it. They're footballers; they get the game. They're from Europe; they understand it. And I think if we can pull it off, it'll be great for the league.''
A major reason why is which fans Metro and Red Bull Arena draw. A majority of the fans that attend games at RBA are from New Jersey. Some published reports have the number anywhere from 80-87% New Jersey residents. While RBA is certainly easier to get to from Manhattan than the Meadowlands were, it's not a walk in the park. From Westchester your only real option is driving, and then you have to deal with either Tappan Zee or GW Bridge traffic. Anyway you cut it it is a prohibitively long journey from Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. Would an NY2 franchise based in Queens draw from these areas? Probably they will from Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, but from Westchester and Manhattan the travel time by either mass transit or car would be about the same.
As for my opinion on NY 2, I honestly don't think New York needs it or it will happen in its current form witht he Wilpons at the helm. I think their interest is genuine and not a barganing chip with Charles Wang, but I just don't see it materialzing the way they're talking about it. We've been down this road before, and nothing happened two years ago. Metro already has two of the best rivalries in the league with DC (Suck it Ben Olsen) and the Revs (Suck it Sharlie Joseph). The Philly/Metro rivalry is heating up and will be a huge one before long (Suck it Nick Sakiewicz). Add into that the relatively close proximity of FC Toronto and in two years Montreal, there is no need for a NY derby like the one Garber wants.
No that you know my opinion, what's yours on the possibility of NY 2?