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September 14, 2012
Sports Plan Faces Fight
Community Opposition Swells in Queens Over Proposal for New Arenas and Mall
The Wall Street Journal
by Laura Kusisto
An ambitious Bloomberg administration plan to remake a corner of Queens with two professional-league sports arenas and a roughly 1-million-square-foot mall is meeting with unexpected and growing opposition that could stymie the effort.
Although the projects are separate from each other, they are all in or near Flushing Meadows Corona Park and have roiled groups that accuse the city of eroding green space without considering the impact of an influx of traffic and thousands of new spectators and shoppers.
Importantly, the coalition of about a half-dozen groups has the initial support of the local City Council member—who, in the tradition of the council, has almost unilateral power to hold up necessary approvals.
Just like with Atlantic Yards, where Council Member Letitia James... oh, wait a minute.
The challenge could stall the projects, which are among Mayor Michael Bloomberg's signature development plans: an 8,000-seat U.S. Tennis Association stadium, a possible 25,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium—both in the park—and the mall on a gritty swath near Citi Field, across from the park.
A Bloomberg spokesperson said the projects are vital to reviving the area. "In all of our conversations with Queens community groups, we hear the same message consistently: the borough needs more jobs and economic activity. These projects would meet that need in spectacular fashion and provide employment to thousands of Queens residents," said spokeswoman Julie Wood.
And surely they're clamoring for less park space, which New York has in spades, right?
It's a familiar story: local residents are speaking out against a plan to bring a new sports arena to their neighborhood. But instead of the middle of Brooklyn, this is the biggest park in Queens. And instead of one NBA arena, it's two sports arenas.
All of the plans are a ways away from even breaking ground, but clearly the local fight is picking up steam. Will the people have Queens have more power than the anti-Barclays Brooklynites?
Posted by eric at September 14, 2012 11:43 AM