This week two separate proposals to make northern Queens a bigger entertainment destination than it already is with Citi Field and the U.S. Tennis Center made news. We think one would be a great addition to the area, and the other, not so much.
The first is a plan to build a Major League Soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows Park where the Fountain of the Planets, a remnant of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, is now. It’ll be tough to see yet another relic of Queens’ past disappear, but the stadium would draw thousands of people to games, providing more wholesome family entertainment here in the borough and boosting the economy.
Queens being home to so many immigrants, many of the most recent from countries where soccer is king, it only makes sense to build an arena for the sport here. As a spokeswoman for MLS put it, such a facility would “bring the world’s sport to the world’s park.” As it stands now, fans have to go to New Jersey, where the Red Bulls play, to watch professional soccer. The game that everyone else in the world aptly calls “football,” a game that’s getting more popular all the time among native-born Americans as well as immigrants, should have a professional home in New York.
That said, the stadium cannot be built overnight. Since it would be erected in a park, an equal amount of land elsewhere, nine acres, would have to be set aside as parkland. It also would require approvals from a number of city and state agencies. And the plan, at least what’s known of it at this point, could use some tweaking. It calls, for example, for patrons to park at Citi Field, but that’s quite a distance away from where the stadium would be built. Still, it’s a plan worth pursuing, with benefits that outweigh the costs.
Not worth pursuing is another possible plan for northern Queens that made the news this week, a casino at Willets Point. There’s enough planned for Willets Point already, and there’s no need for a second gambling mecca in Queens. If the state legalizes Vegas-style gaming, as it seems inclined to do, Resorts World Casino New York, the popular new racino at Aqueduct Race Track, is the right location for it.
Luckily, the Willets Point casino is not a serious plan that’s moving forward, like the soccer stadium, but simply a trial balloon that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver floated. We say stick a pin in it. Mayor Bloomberg and Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corp., seem to agree. In this instance, we’ll place our bets with them.