Now that the club has enough registered players to theoretically field an, albeit defensive, team, we examine another key piece of business still outstanding for the Cosmos - where will the home opener be played on April 1st?
We’ll cover the most likely venues as well as court some more fanciful and outright outlandish proposals. But most importantly, where would you like to see the Cosmos call home moving forward?
What we know so far:
First of all, we know for sure the team is done with Hofstra for a variety of reasons. But as reported by our friends at the First Team Podcast, Rocco Commisso says there is a “High probability that the Cosmos will play in the Five Boroughs” and that as of January 10th he was in talks with one to two venues. So where are the Cosmos most likely to land?
For most people, MCU Park - home of the Mets’ minor league affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones is the most likely venue. The team already has a relationship with the stadium, having played two games there in 2015, including the Playoff Semifinal. The venue is used to holding a wide variety of sports and events, including football and music concerts. It has a seated capacity of 7,000 with the potential for 2,500 standing. It is in close proximity to the terminus of four subway lines and also offers fairly ample parking. And, who wouldn’t relish a game-day ride on the roller coaster that gave the Cyclones their name?
Though Raul and Marcos Senna apparently told team executives that they preferred the playing surface at MCU to the then home field at Shuart, hosting soccer on a baseball diamond didn’t please everyone. Perhaps a solution to this would be to utilize Nexxfield temporary turf. This material can be laid on top of the existing permanent playing surface, eliminating the baseball diamond and creating a pristine looking soccer field. This was something that Rayo OKC did at Miller Stadium before a literal turf war saw half the field disappear overnight. Eric Stover actually talked about the surface on the Inverted Triangle Podcast earlier this year and seemed confident that the surface could be laid and removed in as little as 24 hours.
Talking of existing relationships, Rocco Commisso clearly has strong links with Columbia University. The Ivy League school’s soccer team even plays at a stadium named after him. Though Rocco B. Commisso Stadium is a soccer specific facility and hosted the Red Bulls II for a single game in 2015, the capacity of only 3,500 makes it much more likely that the Cosmos would look to the larger American football orientated Wien Stadium next door.
This idea isn’t a new one. It has been explored as a potential development site for a new NYCFC stadium. It’s current capacity of 17,100 is certainly ample, and it is steps from the MTA 1 train and in sight of the Metro North Railroad. But it is a drastic geographical departure for a team that has so far courted fans from Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens. Not to mention the proximity to Yankees Stadium and NYCFC.
Ok, now we get to some of the more outlandish ideas. The idea of a Red Bulls - Cosmos merger was one that Twice a Cosmos’ own Mike Chiara explored recently. Obviously ground sharing is a whole different scenario, but it is something that Rocco Commisso has discussed as being a logical option moving forward.
But this is non-starter for many reasons. First, the NASL would likely be inherently opposed to one of their teams renting from the MLS, and it falls outside of Commisso’s remit of being within the five boroughs. But it is a new, soccer specific stadium, with real grass and reasonable transit links (though anyone who has attempted to board a post-game PATH train would likely beg to differ!)
Back in 2013, when NYCFC were yet to be fully realised, the Daily News reported that the Mets were “very interested and fully capable” of hosting an MLS franchise. And the idea of soccer at Citi Field is also not new, with the stadium hosting a variety of games in previous years. Obviously this is a well established, iconic venue with excellent transit and road links. But it would probably be cavernous for the types of crowds the Cosmos might expect next season, dream though we might. Though if the team fosters a working relationship with the Mets organisation at the minor league level in Brooklyn, who’s to say Citi field couldn’t be a home away from home when sell-out games are expected?
Now we really enter the fairytale realm. In what remains one of the the largest untapped real estate opportunities left in the city, Sunnyside Yards could one day be the site of a major redevelopment that would easily house a sports complex (a la Barclays Center, only much more vast). This is a speculative one that Empire of Soccer’s Bill Reese explored in detail a couple of years back as the ‘dream location’ for NYCFC. It certainly would tick a lot of boxes for both teams, and once again brings up the idea of ground sharing, but would be a permanent solution that is naturally a long, long way off at this stage.
While we’re on the subject of speculative long term solutions though...Should MCU Park prove the interim stop, why not take a whimsical look at this potential site that has been earmarked for development. Doesn’t it look tailor made for a soccer specific stadium? After all, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was pretty clear when he tweeted in 2015 “I want to bring a world class soccer team to Brooklyn”. But I digress...
Of course there are several other venues that have hosted Cosmos games in the past. Naturally Belson Stadium, the stage for the recent Soccer Bowl, comes to mind. But is way too small for where you would imagine management would like to take the team. Fordham’s 7000 capacity Coffey Field was the scene of last year’s US Open Cup match-up with NYCFC, albeit with the opposition technically being the home team. There’s even Mitchell Field, the Cosmos’ training base over the last few years which was discussed as a potential venue in the past. The list could go on.
And indeed it does. In May 2016, Midfieldpress’ Chris Kivlehan wrote about this topic in great detail, and mentioned many of the options discussed here. At that time Belmont was still a possibility (however remote) and that was before the recent crisis and rebirth under Commisso. But even in the current context it still provides some very interesting reading.
Though I think we have all have a pretty clear inkling of the outcome, there’s no harm in asking - where do you see the Cosmos playing next year? What is your preferred option? And do you have any ideas (realistic or otherwise) of where you’d like to see the team play, wether temporarily or permanently?