Elmont, New York New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont), local legislators, and community leaders unite against the development of a soccer stadium at Belmont Park. Assemblywoman Solages, a member of the Assembly's Standing Committee on Racing and Wagering, released the following statement on the plans to develop a soccer stadium at Belmont Park: "The proposal to develop a soccer stadium at Belmont Park is detrimental to the quality of life in Elmont, Floral Park, and the surrounding communities. This plan completely disregards the needs of the residents and would cripple community resources rather than contribute to much needed investment in infrastructure." Assemblywoman Solages, in solidarity with area legislators and concerned community leaders, is rejecting the proposal to build a soccer stadium in a residential area that is ill-equipped to sustain such a structure.
Developers are proposing a stadium that would hold 25,000 seats. However, a news report from the North American Soccer League indicated that the number of regular season attendees averaged only 3,810 during the 2012 soccer season. (1) As a result, Assemblywoman Solages stated, "It is unrealistic to believe that a $400 million soccer stadium at Belmont Park will generate profitable revenue for the developers, much less for the residents of the communities surrounding the stadium."
"Experience has taught me that it is unwise to proceed without the support of the surrounding communities and elected officials," stated Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05). U.S. Rep. Meeks continued, "This project does not have our support. I strongly recommend continued dialogue aimed at reaching consensus on the kind of development that will reinvigorate Belmont Park, create jobs, improve infrastructure, and meet community needs."
Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages (D-Elmont), whose district would be heavily impacted by such a development, stated, "A multi-million dollar stadium is not the answer to the development that our community wants to see accomplished in this area. The establishment of a soccer stadium at Belmont Park will only stunt the substantial progress we have made thus far, and push the Elmont community further and further into the shadows. After my recent visit to Harrison, New Jersey (location of the NY Red Bulls soccer stadium), I saw firsthand the detrimental consequences that an unprofitable soccer stadium can have on a community. After observing the number of vacant businesses and homes rendered empty by middle class families that could no longer afford to live in the area, I am even more convinced that the prospect of a soccer stadium in Belmont Park is not ideal for our community."
Elmont community leader Aubrey Phillips expressed his opposition to the soccer stadium project by stating, "This year Elmont Memorial High School graduated 99 percent of its students; 46 percent have advanced regents diplomas and 96 percent of them are off to college or trade schools. Seasonal minimum wage jobs at a stadium do not reflect the aspirations of these graduates and the parents who already pay a higher percentage of their real income in taxes and fees than residents who live less that 10 miles east and north of them."
Assemblywoman Solages further stated, "If Belmont Park is to once again serve as the catalyst for the future, then the development that needs to take place must reflect the needs of our community and contribute to much needed infrastructure. Unfortunately, the proposed soccer stadium at Belmont Park does not take these factors into consideration. In fact, it puts a significant strain on public safety, compromises the property values in the surrounding communities, and threatens our quality of life."