January 15, 2013
Repost: Belmont Park would be a perfect site for an MLS team to play, but I am biased
This is a repost of a story from Nov. 18, 2011
By Michael Lewis
CARSON, Calif. -- While driving to the airport for my flight to Los Angeles, I took the Cross Island Parkway south to the Belt Parkway and eventually to JFK Airport.
It wasn't the journey that intrigued me, it was driving past a possible Major League Soccer destination that could become reality sometime in the future.
I'm talking about Belmont Park, the race track that straddles the border of Nassau County (suburban Long Island) and Queens (New York City, with the emphasis in this case on city).
I think it would be a perfect place for the New York Cosmos, the Chuck Blazer/Curtis Martin group or whatever group emerges as the New York City team's owners.
Of course, I am biased. During a recent early morning drive (translated, pre-rush hour) to JFK, I drove past the same said area. t took me only 50 minutes to reach Belmont.
For the past 16 years or so, I have driven on a regular basis to New Jersey -- whether it was the MetroStars playing or training at Giants Stadium, the Red Bulls practicing at Montclair State University in Little Falls, N.J. or performing at the beautiful Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.
Depending on the traffic flow, the time of day when I left, police actions and accidents, my travel time has varied between 1:15 minutes and three hours (there's nothing like crawling along the world's biggest parking lot, the Long Island Expressway or trying to be patient with the ridiculous stop-and-go of the Cross Bronx Expressway). Let's face it. Getting from LI to NJ is not easy. There are a lot of moving parts. When you add two major bridges into it (Triborough and George Washington) it gets even more complicated.
According to very reliable sources in New York and close to the Cosmos, Belmont Park, Greenpoint in Brooklyn and a site near the Queensborough Bridge (aka the 59th Street Bridge) are the three most viable choices found to date.
I don't know about you, but I don't exactly savor driving on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway -- one of the worst highways in the world ever constructed (yes, even worse than the LIE -- to games in Greenpoint.
Queensborough is an interesting possibility, but Belmont Park wins out in my heart and my wallet as well.
It's easier and not as costly to get to. Translated: less time and less money spent on gas.
There is no subway, but there is a Long Island Railroad stop that is used for horse races that could be used. There is plenty of land on which to build a stadium and a ton of parking as well. The latter has been a major issue with Red Bull Arena, which is not an easy stadium to get to in Harrison, N.J., unless you area and leaves hours before and after matches (as many media members do).
If you want to get technical, Belmont is located in Elmont, N.Y., which is part of Nassau County and Long Island. But the city is something like a David Beckham free kick.
So, here is a memo to MLS commissioner Don Garber and the MLS board of governors:
When and if you pick a second team in the New York region, please select Belmont Park over the other candidates as its home ground.
It is perfectly positioned for MLS matches.
I realize what I want doesn't translate into what is best for the league. There are so many issues in which the league and New York City must navigate through -- legal and otherwise.
But all things being equal, Belmont wins by a mile, or in horse racing parlance, by 10 lengths and going away.