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Op-ed: With thousands of union careers on the line, NYCFC’s new stadium must move forward

Nov. 14, 2023 By Gary LaBarbera

New York City is facing a pivotal moment in its economic and cultural recovery. Now more than ever, we need investment and commitment to jumpstarting major development projects that modernize city hubs and create crucial economic stimulus in our underserved communities.

Ten years ago, New York City Football Club (NYCFC) was founded on a promise to do just that, by representing New Yorkers and building a stadium within the five boroughs. After much patience and perseverance from all parties involved, they’re nearing the finishing line of keeping that promise and bringing thousands of good-paying union jobs to the borough of Queens.

In recent weeks, NYCFC’s proposed stadium, which would be built in Willets Point, was certified into the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process, a major step forward in making these plans reality. The finished soccer stadium will not only stand as a cultural and economic hub for generations of New Yorkers, the launching of the development project will also create accessible opportunities for hard working New Yorkers almost immediately with the creation of 142,000 construction jobs. Most importantly, the stadium will be completely privately financed, which means that the project will only put money in the pockets of New Yorkers.

That is why we’re calling on everyone who is a part of finalizing this project to keep this process moving forward. Through community engagement, NYCFC and the Queens Development Group have extensively presented the details of this proposed project, including public transit and multiple parking options, in addition to sustainability initiatives. It is ready for approval, and any delays means standing in the way of creating these family-sustaining career opportunities and bringing more economic stimulus into our communities.

The borough of Queens and its residents stand to directly benefit economically from the stadium project. This project will revitalize Willets Point, which has been a neglected and under-utilized neighborhood in New York City for decades. Often referred to as the “Valley of Ashes,” this area now has the once-in-a-generation opportunity to become one of the city’s most dynamic sporting, cultural, and economic hubs. Our city and residents of Queens deserve to see their community reach its fullest and brightest potential and this project will be a catalyst for that.

In addition to the creation of jobs and economic boost, the Queens community would be welcoming a soccer club that has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to New York City since its inception. NYCFC has been a leading developer in our city, creating over 60 new free spaces to play soccer and has served over 30,000 kids through free soccer programming. The Club will have a dedicated space in the new stadium to deliver and grow these free programs for young people in Queens and across New York City, becoming a prime example of how effective and mindful development can directly benefit our communities.

Union construction has been the backbone of New York City for generations. Building a privately financed stadium with all union labor for a club that has represented and invested in New Yorkers for ten years is a once-in-a-lifetime project that will provide thousands of our highly skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen with an accessible path to the middle class. We must ensure this initiative moves forward so that all New Yorkers may take full advantage of the opportunities it stands to create.

Gary LaBarbera is the president of the New York City and New York State Building and Construction Trades Council. 

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