The Long Island Rough Riders are proposing a new stadium that could become home to a USL franchise.
The proposal on the table is a partnership that would result in a soccer stadium that is utilized by Suffolk Community College. Along with the college’s program, the stadium could house a new USL franchise.
The Rough Riders, currently members of the Premier Development League, are unveiling the concept at a turning point for both USL and Long Island’s soccer scene. The USL has already added at least three teams for 2017, and is confirmed to be looking at expansion in the future. Meanwhile, on Long Island, plans are off to construct a new stadium in Elmont for the New York Cosmos, a franchise whose future is in limbo at this point.
Rough Riders officials have discussed the plans publicly, and are reportedly meeting with potential project partners. More from Newsday:
Peter Zaratin, Rough Riders president, in a nearly half-hour presentation before college trustees proposed to build an $8 million to $10 million soccer complex at no cost to the college, in return for a 40-year lease in a public-private partnership. He added the team is willing to participate in an unspecified revenue-sharing arrangement for tickets, food and retail sales.
The proposal is to expand the Rough Riders, established 1993, from a collegiate-level player-development team to add a United Soccer League franchise, the equivalent of a Triple A minor league baseball team. That team would play 15 home games on campus. The player-development team, which has seven home games a year, now plays at St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington.
“We are looking to be a feeder for Major League Soccer,” Zaratin said, adding, “Long Island does not have the demographics for a major-league team.”
Joining Zaratin at the meeting were his partner, Mitchell Rechler of Rechler Equity Partners, who is personally investing in the project. Also involved is David Howard, a former president of MSG Sports, which ran the business operations of Madison Square Garden, and one-time executive of the New York Mets.
Other markets are known to be looking at the USL. As noted here last week, officials in Grand Rapids have been meeting with Grand Rapids FC–also a Premier Development League franchise–about building a stadium in conjunction with a broader development plan for the city.
Image of USL action courtesy Louisville City FC.