Poll: Locals want soccer arena

Poll: Locals want soccer arena|Poll: Locals want soccer arena
Leo Glickman was among those against the stadium at the Jan. 15 meeting —but three-fourths of locals surveyed felt like the MLS arena was “a good idea” for River Avenue.
Photo by Ben Kochman

The South Bronx may want a soccer stadium.

At least according to an unscientific survey at a recent Town Hall Meeting.

Three out of four people polled at a packed Jan. 15 meeting believe a Major League Soccer arena “is a good idea for River Avenue,” according to the survey by the 161st Street Business Improvement District.

Locals have debated the pros and cons since December, when reports leaked that the New York City Football Club had closed a deal with City Hall to build a 28,000-seat complex on River Avenue and E. 157th Street near Yankee Stadium.

Critics at the meeting slammed the plan —which has fizzled out with the new mayor — for providing millions in public subsidies.

The meeting’s 58 speakers were closely split.

The BID’s poll of 168 attendees shows stadium fans on board even with taxpayer funding, which is opposed by local electeds.

Only one of out five in the survey answered ‘yes’ when asked if their opinion hinged on public funding.

“I remain committed to the principle that any stadium must be paid for without public funding and must not receive special tax breaks,” Congressman Jose Serrano said the day after the Town Hall Meeting.

Stadium naysayers questioned whether the survey truly captured the spirit of the community. Many speakers at the meeting were from groups that work with the Yankees, part owners of NYCFC, including youth sports organizations Madison Square Boys and Girls Club and Harlem RBI.

“I can’t say I speak for the community —nobody can, at this point —but I can say that I feel the Town Hall was packed by the Yankees,” said Killian Jordan, a local who opposes the stadium plan.

The BID went above and beyond in its community outreach, giving out thousands of flyers at local housing projects and to groups, said Cary Goodman, the group’s executive director.

But the room was so jammed that not every local who wanted entry got in.

“It’s by no means a scientific survey of how the community feels, but it does show that a local voice exists that would like to see a stadium here,” Goodman said.

He said that he wasn’t surprised by the survey results, since the space in question now hosts an underused and debt-saddled parking garage.

“If there was a competing proposal for the space, maybe those opinions would change,” Goodman said. “But for now, this is the only option out there.”

Ben Kochman can be reached via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (718) 742–3394
Photo by Ben Kochman

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