With all the tumult in the commercial office market, I thought that a good news story would be a nice subject as the new year is now well underway. Soccer aficionados are probably aware that New York City has reached an agreement with Major League Soccer’s New York City Football Club (NYCFC) to build a new soccer stadium in Willets Point behind the right field stands of Citi Field. 

The new stadium will have 25,000 seats and will be part of a project to build inter alia, 2500 new affordable housing units and a 250 room hotel and an elementary school for 650 students. The entire $780 million cost of the stadium will be privately funded. According to the New York Times, NYCFC and the development team including the Related Companies and Sterling Equities will lease the land from the city for 49 years plus a team option for a 25-year extension. The rent under the lease will be up to $4 million per year. The city’s major concession is that the team will not have to pay any property taxes (which are estimated at over $500 million for the entire lease term, or just over $10 million annually), which are usually passed on to lessees. 

Anyone who has ever attended a soccer game at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field knows that the site lines are poor, many of the seats are behind the goals and the turf is not suited to soccer with the baseball infield dirt. The new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2027 with all of the latest amenities, is sure to be a vast improvement with all of the seats angled close to the pitch. The architect for the project is stadium expert HOK Sport. 

Interestingly, even though the Mets are a next-door neighbor, they are not involved with NYCFC, but the Yankees are a minority owner. The majority owner of NYCFC is Abu Dhabi-based City Football Group, which also owns Manchester City, the defending champion of Europe’s Champions League and England’s Premier League. 

This being New York City, the stadium still must run a gauntlet of approvals. In December, Queens Community Board 7 gave its stamp of approval on the project. Last Wednesday, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards gave the green light with several conditions which include that more than half of the housing units be allocated for residents at or below 80% of the median income in the area, construction of playgrounds in Willets Point and improvements to Flushing Meadow Park. The next day, the developers closed on the purchase of the last two parcels of the project. Next, sign off is needed from the City Planning Commission at a public hearing on January 24, followed by the City Council and Mayor Adams (a foregone conclusion since he negotiated the deal). 

The stadium will be right near the proposed site for a casino in Willets Point which has been proposed by Steve Cohen, the owner of the Mets. There has also been some jousting regarding an existing agreement that provides that parking revenues are paid to the Mets on soccer game days at Citi Field, but that appears to have been resolved.


As a result, New York will soon be getting a much-needed new soccer stadium at virtually no cost with the added benefit of community use as with the National Tennis Center nearby. And what better place for the world’s most popular sport than the polyglot borough of Queens, where approximately 220 languages are spoken.

Oh, and by the way, for those who are impatient for 2027, the Club World Cup of the world’s top professional teams will be in the United States in 2025 (presumably, with some games in New York) followed by the World Cup in 2026. As Tottenham Hotspur supporters who have enjoyed their renaissance this season know, to dare is to do. New York deserves a world-class soccer stadium, so let’s get this project done. The city will be the better for it.

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Wharton Property Advisors