From the Daily News:
Bronx activists had some advice on Tuesday for Queens: Keep your precious park land and ignore the stadium sweet talk.
Major League Soccer said it’s close to hammering out a deal with the city to build a $300 million stadium on up to 13 acres in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
But the plan is reminiscent of a Yankee Stadium land deal that “shortchanged” the Bronx, local activist Mary Blassingame said.
“This is Yankee Stadium all over again,” she said. “They need to fight against it. Parks are for the people ... not for business.”
City officials begged to differ.
“As anyone who’s been to Heritage Field across from Yankee Stadium would say, it’s a stunning example of public space that has been widely celebrated by local residents and parks advocates alike,” said Mayor’s Office spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua.
Blassingame, a former Bronx Community Board 4 member, was a vocal opponent of the 2005 deal that allowed the Yankees to build a new stadium on 22 acres in Mullaly Park.
The Bronx Bombers promised the new venue would create local jobs and business and the city vowed to replace the green space with new parks elsewhere.
But the area near the stadium is still struggling and it took the city six years to complete the new parks, which are top-of-the-line but scattered, Blassingame said. “We got shortchanged all the way and now it’s going to happen again,” Blassingame predicted.
“The land they’re currently talking about on Flushing River is toxic,” said an elected official who asked not to be named. “So how would that be cleaned up?”
MLS officials said the Queens stadium will be privately financed, unlike Yankee Stadium, which received hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies.
The Bronx Bombers made similar claims during early negotiations, said Neil DeMause, co-author of “Field of Schemes,” a book on modern stadium deals.
“History makes it reasonable for New Yorkers to look at this proposal with skepticism,” he said.