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Design & Development

NYCFC stadium venture secures city council approval

Featured image credit: HOK

New York City Council has voted to approve the construction of New York City FC’s new stadium as part of a wider project described as one of the most ambitious developments in the United States and a model for a public-private partnership.

The Council yesterday (Thursday) voted 47-1 in favour of the Willets Point Phase II Redevelopment Plan, completing the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) review process. Along with the new 25,000-seat stadium for Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise NYCFC, the scheme also includes 2,500 new affordable homes, over 40,000 square feet of open public space, a hotel, and retail space.

The Council’s approval of the initiative has been hailed as a significant milestone in the long journey to revitalise the area, undertaken by the Queens Development Group (QDG), comprising Related Companies and Sterling Equities in collaboration with Council member Francisco Moya, and NYCFC.

Mayor Eric Adams, who has championed the project, is expected to sign the ULURP documents officially in the coming days with the only remaining hurdle being a final environmental review, which is expected to be completed later this year.

“I am grateful for Councilmember Moya’s steadfast leadership and unrelenting tenacity to bring this project to reality; he has known from day one the power soccer has to bring a community together,” said New York City Football Club vice-chairman, Marty Edelman.

“Without our fans and partners like Councilmember Moya, Council Speaker Adams, and the entire City Council, our club would not be able to make good on a promise we made 10 years ago to build NYC’s first-ever soccer-specific stadium in the five boroughs. Today’s City Council vote gets us one step closer to bringing this promise to life in Queens – the world’s borough will be our home for the world’s game.”

The first phase of the Willets Point transformation broke ground in December when QDG began construction on the first 880 affordable housing units. Those buildings are expected to be completed by the end of 2026, and 220 additional affordable homes set aside for low-income seniors are expected to break ground next in the Willets Point transformation.

In addition, the city and its development partners have undertaken significant environmental remediation of the formerly contaminated soil, which has been completed across a majority of the project site as of July.

Plans for the project were first announced in November 2022. The New York City Planning Commission approved the stadium venture last month as NYCFC unveiled renderings of The Cube, the eye-catching entrance for the facility which is scheduled to open in Queens in 2027.

NYCFC’s new stadium is set to be the first fully electric venue in MLS, as well as the first fully electric professional sports stadium in New York City. The design and building of the stadium will place a focus on renewable energy, with solar panels to be fitted on the roof to maximise energy generation. NYCFC is also focusing on reducing CO2 emissions and is working for credible net zero by 2040.

HOK and Turner have been selected as the stadium’s architect and general contractor, respectively. It will be the first soccer-specific stadium in New York City and the first major league sports venue to be developed in the city since 2012, when Barclays Center opened in Brooklyn.

Willets Point will be within walking distance of Citi Field, home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets, and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open grand slam tournament.

The City will retain ownership of the land, with NYCFC granted a 49-year lease deal that includes a 25-year extension option. The stadium is projected to cost $780m (£622.9m/€730.1m) to develop and will be financed by NYCFC’s majority owner, City Football Group (CFG).

The New York Yankees also hold a 20% stake in NYCFC, with the club having played the majority of its games at the MLB team’s Yankee Stadium since its MLS debut in 2015. NYCFC has been long frustrated in efforts to develop a stadium of its own, but the Queens project now appears set to proceed.

Mayor Adams said: “Housing is the goal — and with today’s City Council vote, I’m proud to say that we just scored the goal of the decade.

“We’re bringing 2,500 affordable housing units, 150,000 square feet of public open space, thousands of good-paying jobs, and the city’s first soccer-specific stadium to a neighbourhood in Queens that used to be known for its junkyards.

“We’re building a brand-new community out of the ‘Valley of Ashes’, and we couldn’t have done it without all our partners… after today’s vote, we’re one step closer to delivering that future.”