NYC’s first professional soccer stadium will open in Queens

A conceptual rendering, courtesy of S9 Architecture

New York City’s first professional soccer stadium will be built in Queens, officials announced Wednesday. The major mixed-use development is proposed for Willets Point, across the street from Citi Field. In addition to a 25,000-seat stadium for the New York City Football Club, the 23-acre project also includes a hotel, thousands of affordable housing units, and a new public school. As first reported by the New York Times, the stadium is expected to be completed by 2027.

A conceptual rendering, courtesy of S9 Architecture

Plans for a permanent home for New York City FC, which has played in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium since 2015, have been in the works for about a decade. Sites considered included Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, near the Aqueduct Racetrack, and Pier 40 in Hudson River Park.

In 2020, the soccer team and developers nearly secured a deal to construct a stadium on parking lots around Yankee Stadium. The agreement fell apart a year later.

Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday unveiled the plan to transform Willets Point into a new neighborhood and sports hub. In partnership with New York City FC, Major League Soccer, and Queens Development Group (a joint venture of Related Companies and Sterling Equities), the project includes 2,500 units of 100 percent affordable homes, which is the largest of its kind since the 1970s when Co-op City was constructed in the Bronx.

The affordable homes will be found across seven buildings on the site, with one set aside specifically for low-income seniors. Construction on the first buildings is set to begin next year.

Designed by S9 Architecture, the development also includes a 250-key hotel, 40,000 square feet of public open space, ground-floor retail, and a 650-seat school serving Kindergarten to eighth grade.

The project is expected to generate $6.1 billion in economic impact for the city over the next 30 years and create 1,550 permanent jobs and 14,200 construction jobs.

According to the mayor, the project will help transform the neighborhood into a sports hub and bring economic activity to an underserved neighborhood.

“Our plan will deliver 2,500 affordable homes — New York City’s largest fully affordable housing project in decades. And with a fully privately financed soccer stadium, a hotel, and local retail, we will create not only homes but also quality jobs, $6 billion in economic activity, and a true pathway to the middle class,” Adams said in a statement. “This is what it means to build a ‘City of Yes.'”

Willets Point, The Related Cos., Sterling Equities

Photo by Jim.henderson on Wikimedia

Formerly a dumping ground, the current site east of Citi Field was known as the Iron Triangle for its abundance of auto shops and industrial businesses. Plans to redevelop the neighborhood have come and gone for decades. In 2007, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans for a mixed-use development that included apartments, offices, and a shopping mall, but a lawsuit halted the project.

Mayor Bill de Blasio revived the plan, announcing an addition of affordable housing and a remediation of the toxic site. According to the New York Times, a majority of the more than 200 businesses that made up the Iron Triangle have been evicted or bought out since.

New York City FC, which won the 2021 MLS Cup, will finance the construction of the stadium, projected to cost $780 million. The city will lease the land to the soccer team and the developers for 49 years, with the option of a 25-year extension. While privately financed, the stadium owners will not have to pay real estate taxes for the duration of the lease, according to the New York Times.

The stadium will open in 2027, just one year after the 2026 FIFA World Cup is hosted by New York City and New Jersey.

“This is an investment that will support neighborhood kids’ futures, fuel our local economy, create a pipeline for local hires, and support our brothers and sisters in labor who have been the backbone of building this city,” Council Member Francisco Moya, who represents the area, said in a statement.

“What started as a dream — when I was just a little boy playing soccer in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with my family who came here from Ecuador — will now be a reality for kids from Corona, who like me were born with a love of soccer in their veins. With this new neighborhood and stadium, we are building opportunities for the kids in my district and all over New York City to not just root for their local team but also to one day be able to don the jersey of their hometown club.”