It's been nine months since details first came to light about Major League Soccer's push to put a soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows Park. But months after talks seemed nearly done, no deal is in place—and the league's focus on "NY2" may be getting diverted to Florida!
Speaking to the media at halftime during the Red Bulls' home opener on Saturday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber expressed for the first time that Florida may take priority if the details didn't fall into place soon:
"It needs to get done so that we can move on with our expansion plans. I'm not going to put any timing on that but we've got to finalize our expansion plan. There's a lot of activity in Orlando and we have got to figure out where that fits in with our expansion timing....We are focused with Florida more so than we've ever been in the past. There are about 80 million people in that part of the country and we don't have any representation lower than D.C., so Florida has become a bit more of a priority."
"The Don" did talk up the progress on the Queens project - talks with the City are occurring regularly, meetings with the community are ongoing, and Garber remains confident they will complete the project. But acknowledging Florida's movement (Orlando has been moving rapidly towards a stadium for third-division side Orlando City SC) is a big change in the league's party line that New York City would be the next expansion site.
Even if they do complete the stadium plan, don't hold your breath that the New York Cosmos to be the ones filling it. In response to questions about their proposed stadium at Belmont, Garber dismissed the idea they'd join Major League Soccer: "We're not at all focused on them or what they're doing...they've made the decision, as I've said many times, to go the NASL route. We support the lower divisions."