New $780M NYCFC stadium gets approved to be built next to Mets' home

The stadium, which will be privately financed, will have 25,000 seats and is expected to be ready by 2027. It's part of a major redevelopment plan that also includes affordable housing, retail and open space

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What to Know

  • New York City is getting closer to having its first professional soccer stadium near Citi Field in Queens.
  • The City Council will vote Thursday on the Willets Point redevelopment plan, which includes the privately funded, $780 million, 25,000-seat stadium near CitiField; the City Planning Commission already approved Phase II
  • Phase II of the Willets Point redevelopment plan includes 1,400 units of affordable housing, a stadium to be used by Major League Soccer’s New York City Football Club, a 250-room hotel, 80,000 square feet of commercial retail space, nearly 3 acres of public open space and more.

The New York City Council on Thursday approved a Willets Point redevelopment plan that will bring the city its first professional soccer stadium, along with nearly three new acres of public space, a hotel, retail and more.

The City Planning Commission has already approved the redevelopment plan, meaning the favorable vote from the council paved the way for that $780 million, privately financed 25,000 all-electric stadium to host Major League Soccer's New York City Football Club near Citi Field in Queens to be completed by 2027. The soccer venue's neighbors will include the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the U.S. Open is played.

In addition to the stadium, the redevelopment plan — which has been in the works for years — will bring 2,500 affordable housing units, an elementary school, 80,000 square feet of retail space, a hotel, a park and more as part of a 23-acre redevelopment project to transform Willets Point, long a gritty cluster of auto body shops. Council members also said the plan will create 15,000 jobs.

"We scored a major goal for NYC," Mayor Eric Adams said surrounded by union members at a celebratory event at City Hall after Thursday's vote. "Willets Point has been an eyesore for so many years."

In a post on X, Adams said, "GOOOOOOOOOOOAL! The largest affordable public housing development in generations is coming to Willets Point! This means homes, jobs, and so much more for our community."

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr., earlier this year announced his recommendation to approve, with conditions, Phase II of the Willets Point redevelopment plan, which includes the stadium.

It won't be ready for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will take place in parts of the U.S., with the title game set for MetLife Stadium.

New York City Football Club of Major League Soccer, which won the championship in 2021, currently plays its home games at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx. The club's owners — who include the Yankees and United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the owner the Manchester City Football Club — will foot the bill for the new stadium.

But the city’s Independent Budget Office concluded that the actual cost to taxpayers for the stadium could be $516 million spread over the 49-year term of NYCFC’s lease. The analysis is based on what the city would have received in property taxes had it sold the land to the stadium’s developers instead of leasing it.

The development team includes Related Companies and Sterling Equities, which is partly controlled by the Wilpon family, who used to own the Mets.

Richards previously highlighted the importance of having this part of Queens, once called the "Valley of Ashes" because it was an industrial area, become a valuable space for the community.

“Through the decades, many plans have been imagined at Willets Point and only one has been approved,” Richards wrote. "I am proud to see the former ‘Valley of Ashes’ transform into better housing, schooling and open space, but I must see material and serious commitments to the surrounding communities of Corona, Flushing and East Elmhurst."

Not mentioned at Thursday's rally was a possible casino, which part of a separate proposal submitted by Mets owner Steve Cohen. He is vying for one of three casino licenses set to be awarded downstate.

What is included in Phase II?

Phase II of the Willets Point redevelopment plan includes 1,400 units of affordable housing, a 25,000-seat soccer stadium, a 250-room hotel, 80,000 square feet of commercial retail space, nearly 3 acres of public open space and more.

Specific conditions laid out in Richards’ recommendation include a written agreement from the development team that housing affordability levels in Phase II of the project be comparable to Phase I — which will stipulate a commitment to having more than half of the 1,400 units be available at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) — and a full list of community benefits the applicant team has pledged throughout the ULURP process.

It wasn't immediately clear which of his conditions, if any, were met as of Thursday.

What are the recommendations?

  1. Local hiring: Minority- and women-owned businesses and area residents should make up at least 30 percent of contracts and hires, with the applicant team providing quarterly reports to the borough president, local councilmembers and area community boards. The applicant team should also work with the borough president and local councilmembers to determine a mutually agreeable set-aside for local street vendors and concessionaires within and surrounding the soccer stadium.
  2. Community partnerships: Discounted NYCFC match tickets for local residents.
  3. Area infrastructure improvements: The applicant team should work with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation to identify areas in and around Flushing Meadows Corona Park that are in need of capital improvements, such as the Flushing Promenade, area sports fields and playgrounds.

Richardson also recommends that no NYCFC games be scheduled on days when either the New York Mets are playing a home game at Citi Field or when the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is in use, to avoid excess congestion.

Read more recommendations here.

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