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New York's First Soccer Stadium Comes to Queens

HAYLEY ZHAO, HOST: New York City’s first dedicated soccer stadium is coming to Queens next year. Queensboro Football Club is building a home field at York College, part of City University of New York. CUNY says it awarded the contract to support the university’s academic and athletic mission and bolster the local economy. But as Kate Stockrahm finds, sports economists are skeptical the stadium will be an economic driver.

KATE STOCKRAHM, BYLINE: Queensboro FC is a new United Soccer League team, one step under major league soccer clubs, like the New York Red Bulls. Fans chose the team’s color landing on “Seven Train Purple,” an homage to the local subway line. But despite community buy-in, sports economist Andrew Zimbalist says stadiums rarely act as economic drivers.

ANDREW ZIMBALIST: There's very little evidence that that occurs at any level, at college sports or professional sports. STOCKRAHM: The 7,500 seat stadium will host community events along with team games. But because the team is lower-tier, Zimbalist says he assumes Queensboro fans will likely be local. ZIMBALIST: And so it's really just money being spent on one block in the area rather than being spent on another block.

STOCKRAHM: Over 150 nationalities call Queens home. Sports economist Victor Matheson says that diversity will likely serve the club well, as many of those nationalities are known for soccer fandom. But he says that’s also a double edged sword.

VICTOR MATHESON: You've got a great potential audience there but you have to do right by them. These are not fair-weather soccer fans. Immigrant communities know when you’re throwing junk at them.

STOCKRAHM: Meaning it’s more important that the team -- not the facility -- is impressive.

Kate Stockrahm, Columbia Radio News.


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