Photo by Christina Santucci
By Joe Anuta

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber hinted Monday that the league and the city have nearly hammered out a broad agreement for a 25,000-capacity stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to happen to finalize our agreement with New York City over our use of the land and our ability to lease that land to build a stadium,” Garber said. “I do believe that we will resolve that shortly. I can’t put any timetable on that, but we are at the finish line.”

The soccer bigwig told the Associated Press that a new team could be playing in Queens by the start of the 2016 season, but the stadium is not a done deal.

An agreement would act more like a broad framework to guide further action, ensuring both the city and the league understand each others’ terms before beginning the formal approval process.

That process includes the city and state signing off on the lease and giving the 10 acres of parkland for the stadium, according to AP.

The league would also need to negotiate the location of replacement parkland and forge an agreement with the New York Mets over the use of their parking lot at nearby Citi Field, the AP reported.

“We need to reach an agreement with the city, with the local community and with the state of New York on replacing the land that we will be utilizing for the stadium,” Garber said.

MLS is set to take its proposal to Borough President Helen Marshall next week and is also planning a town hall-style meeting to discuss improvements it will make to Flushing Meadows.

But to some civic groups in the borough, the league’s plans hardly represent an improvement.

The Fairness Coalition of Queens is an umbrella organization of nonprofits that opposes the displacement of public parkland for the use of private developers.

Its leaders contend that the MLS project also needs to be considered in light of other developments, including the construction of a million-square-foot mall on parkland leased to the Mets for a parking lot. The United States Tennis Center is also planning to expand the borders of its Billie Jean King National Tennis Center into the park by less than an acre.

Elected officials seem to be largely in favor of the plan, with state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and state Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) emerging as two vocal supporters.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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