NYCFC to build New York’s first professional soccer-specific stadium

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has unveiled his administration’s vision for the next phase of the transformation of the Willets Point community in Queens. Through a new partnership with 2021 MLS Cup champions New York City Football Club and Queens Development Group — a joint venture of Related Companies and Sterling Equities — Willets Point will be anchored by 2,500 new affordable homes.

Developed in close partnership with New York City Council member Francisco Moya, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and community members, Mayor Adams’ plan will also bring New York City’s first soccer-specific stadium to Willets Point along with over 40,000 square feet of public open space, a 250-key hotel and neighbourhood-serving, ground-floor retail shops that will create good-paying jobs for community residents.

This historic plan will bring significant long-term economic opportunity to a community that has long been underserved. The entire project is expected to generate $6.1 billion in economic impact over the next 30 years, creating 1,550 permanent jobs and 14,200 construction jobs.

With the creation of a new soccer stadium, Willets Point will become the city’s premier sports hub, with the New York Mets’ Citi Field and U.S. Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center both also within walking distance of the MTA’s Mets-Willets Point subway and LIRR station.

Mayor Adams said:

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a brand-new neighbourhood, a Willets Point that offers real opportunity for working people and all New Yorkers. 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. This is what it means to build a ‘City of Yes.’

Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer, said:

The transformation of Willets Point is a ‘goal’ for the Adams administration, as this project will create a dynamic, new neighbourhood in New York City that will include affordable housing, open spaces, retail, and a world-class soccer stadium that will result in an economic impact of more than $6 billion over the next 30 years. I am proud to be part of this team that ‘Gets Stuff Done’ and believe the best is yet to come for the Willets Point community.

Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz, said:

The Adams administration is committed to becoming a ‘City of Yes’ with projects like Willets Point and more across the city. As outlined in ‘Housing Our Neighbors’ — the mayor’s housing and homelessness blueprint — we are going to fight to expand housing, affordability, and community-focused amenities across the city. We are excited to work with the community, local councilmember, and development partners to deliver the largest 100-percent affordable new construction project in 40 years with 2,500 new homes.

Alongside the new stadium, open space, and local jobs that this project will bring, we are building new housing to ensure that all New Yorkers have a place they can afford and raise their families.

Conceptual renderings of Mayor Adams’ vision for Willets Point. Credit: S9 Architecture

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President and CEO Andrew Kimball, said:

Today is a joyous day not just for Queens but for New York City, as we announce one of the most ambitious development projects of this generation. The transformation of the Willets Point district into a thriving new neighbourhood — focused around 2,500 affordable housing units and a privately financed soccer stadium — is a generational investment in the world’s borough that will bring over $6 billion in economic impact and nearly 16,000 jobs.

After decades of working with the community, we are thrilled to see this historic project continue to advance. NYCEDC is proud to work alongside our partners at Queens Development Group, New York City Football Club and city government. Thank you to Mayor Adams for his continued leadership, Councilmember Moya and Borough President Richards for their partnership, and everyone who helped make this project a reality.

New York City Department of City Planning Director and City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick, said:

This is the right place and the right time to finally build a new soccer stadium worthy of New York City and fit for the NYCFC, alongside an impressive amount of affordable housing. As we work to build an even more dynamic and equitable city, Queens and Willets Point are leading the way.

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Mayor Adams’ vision for the transformation of Willets Point builds on core goals in his “Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery” and “Housing Our Neighbors: A Blueprint for Housing and Homelessness,” including leveraging neighbourhood infrastructure investments to catalyse equitable community development and creating housing opportunities in neighbourhoods with strong access to jobs, transit, schools, parks, and other amenities.

Home stadium advantage 

After bringing New York City its first professional championship in a decade, NYCFC will finally now have a home stadium of their own. NYCFC plans to construct the privately financed, 25,000-seat soccer stadium with union labour, aiming to open it in 2027 — following the highly anticipated 2026 FIFA World Cup™ that New York and New Jersey will help host.

The new stadium will make New York City a national soccer capital, laying the groundwork for the next chapter in NYCFC and MLS’ history. This stadium represents a major opportunity to capitalise on professional soccer as a growing attraction that can bring investment and economic opportunities to New York City, as well as grow love of the sport to more New Yorkers.

The 2,500, 100-percent affordable homes will cover seven buildings — including one with 220 homes for low-income seniors — with construction on the first buildings set to begin in 2023, one year ahead of the original timeline. Additionally, QDG will participate in HireNYC, a city program that connects local residents to jobs. They will seek to achieve the highest standards of environmental sustainability through either LEED Gold U.S. Green Building Council certification or Enterprise Green Communities.

The Phase 2 plan builds on Phase 1 of the city’s development in the community, which includes the first 1,100 of the 2,500 total affordable homes as well as a new 650-seat standalone public school, new public open space, and significant infrastructure investment. QDG has undertaken significant remediation of the formerly contaminated soil on the Willets Point site, allowing construction of the first affordable homes to begin early.

New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, said:

We thank Mayor Adams for his vision for the Willets Point neighbourhood, and DOT will continue to support safe, sustainable, and efficient transportation options for Queens residents and visitors to the growing sporting hub developing in the neighbourhood. Just this past week, DOT was proud to jumpstart a project that will complement and support these transformational developments, as our Northern Boulevard bus priority project will provide new Willets Point residents and soccer fans alike faster and more reliable bus service connecting to the M, R, and 7 subway lines.

The proposal was first presented in 2018 by the Willets Point Task Force, a group of Queens stakeholders represented by state and local elected officials; Community Boards 3, 4, and 7; economic development groups; community-based organisations; and local civic associations. Over four months, the task force identified community priorities and produced recommendations for the city-owned land, including a scenario that reimagined the Special Willets Point District as a hub for a new soccer stadium with public facilities, programmed open space with active and passive uses, and new homes at a range of affordability levels.

The significant infrastructure investment for this project will include additional environmental cleanup — supplementing the ongoing remediation work — as well as installation of new storm and sanitary sewers, reconstruction of streets, and improvements to the existing streetscape. As with Phase 1, this next phase of the Willets Point transformation will need to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process — including environmental review — and the New York City Public Design Commission. The ULURP process is expected to start by the end of 2023.

Source & imagery, courtesy: NYCFC

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