It seems that a rumored deal to bring a soccer stadium to Queens is closer to reality, with the NY Times reporting what Bloomberg News, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications had noted: Sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan is close to paying $100 million to bring professional soccer to Queens.
The Times says, "The prospective owners are willing to pay a $100 million expansion fee for the league’s 20th team, which could be called New York City F.C. and begin play in 2016, the two people said. That would more than double the expansion fee of $40 million paid by the Montreal team that entered M.L.S. in 2012."
If the deal goes through, MLS will take 13 acres in Flushing Meadows Corona Park—and this is contingent upon the City Council and State Legislature okaying it— with the league replacing the 13 acres of parkland to the community at a location yet to be identified. Weirdly, as noted last week, the Parks Department has begun work on an $2.8 million improvement plan (approved by City Councilperson Julissa Ferreras) in the proposed stadium area.
While Sheik Mansour, deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, has a personal net worth of $4.9 billion—a.k.a. money to burn—critics of the MLS stadium-in-Queens plan are pointing out his country's human rights failings. City Councilman Daniel Dromm said, "I was shocked to read in the New York Times that the Bloomberg Administration is negotiating to give NYC parkland away to Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, an oil billionaire that helps rule a country where gays or lesbians is a crime punishable by death. This is outrageous. This is also a country where gay and lesbian people could be subject to chemical castration. It is totally unacceptable. I urge my colleagues in the City Council and elected officials across the state to join me in saying that New Yorkers won’t do business with a murderous regime and we won’t sell, trade or giveaway our public assets to those who discriminate and participate in human rights abuses."
Dromm also told Capital New York, "The human rights record of that country in particular, where they punish gay people by death and by chemical castration, I felt a moral obligation to speak out on that basis."