May 17, 2010
THE MLS CHALLENGE
Garber: the ball's in our court to convince Mets to build a soccer stadium
By Michael Lewis
NEW YORK -- Hockey or soccer?
Major League Soccer's next great challenge in the city is to convince the New York Mets that they should invest in a soccer stadium rather than a hockey arena, says commissioner Don Garber.
Garber said Monday that the league still wants a second team in New York as it has been in discussions -- casual ones -- with the Wilpons, the team owners, about "re-engaging."
The onus is on MLS to convince that the Mets owners, the Wilpon family, that it should lean to soccer, Garber said. Last week it was reported that Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon has talked to New York Islanders owner Charles Wang about building an arena for the NHL team near Citi Field in Queens.
The Mets have been interested in owning a soccer team as well. But if they go ahead in building another sports facility near Citi Field, it will be one, not two.
"We continue to want that second team in New York," Garber said. "We have been in discussion, albeit casal ones with the Wilpons about re-engaging. They went public as you know in a soccer stadium or a hockey arena. I think the ball's in our court to convince them and that the people here in this city that the Willet's Point location would be perfect for a soccer stadium."
Of course, that might be easier said than done. So, what does the league have to do to convince the Mets?
"There's a lot of people in this community that care about the game," Garber said. We've got to rally them, get them out to show their interest and hopefully their desire to be part of a second team in New York."
Garber spoke at Children’s Aid Society in Harlem Monday after President Bill Clinton was named honorary chairman of the U.S. Bid Committee as it vies for either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.
The league recently expanded to 19 teams -- Montreal -- and is looking to make it an even 20.