The soccer stadium project proposed early in the year for the new Manchester City Football Club's home in the South Bronx became an instant hot topic in the community that had leaders and activists talking and taking action. The new team was looking for a new home and the South Bronx looked favorably once their plan to build in the Flushing Park area of Queens fell through.
The Yankees entered the picture by partnering with club owner, Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and the idea of bringing a world class facility for the team near the new Yankee Stadium was born.
From the moment it was first announced the project became a hot topic. The reason was that the community near the new stadium was still reeling from the three-year construction that it took to demolish the old Yankee Stadium, build the new stadium and build the parks that were promised to the community. That delay of the main park, Heritage Field and several other issues like jobs and contracts promised to the community residents and local businesses created much controversy that still lingers today in the South Bronx community. The second major project was a mall built several blocks south of the stadium that had less community participation and had major flaws for residents walking in and around the mall. Those issues really infuriated the community. Thus, a new soccer stadium being proposed between the Mall and the new stadium was definitely going to raise more than a few voices.
As such, community leaders and activist from all sides began to let their voices heard. Several polls were being quoted (the most accurate was the one from the South Bronx Community Association as it asked the most affected, the home owners and residents living nearest the proposed new stadium). There were those that were in favor, others totally against and others who had the, "how is the community going to benefit" attitude before saying YEA or NAY.
The fact is that the project died while the community was still working through the pains of meeting, debating and trying to come up with a real community consensus.
However, it's important to note that the project was not killed because of community pressure against it. According to several community leaders and activist who live nearest the site, the community was developing a consensus with all sectors to prepare a unified Community Benefits Agreement. Whether, or not this new and creative network of community forces would have worked, we will never know because the truth is the project was killed by the tenant of the building that was necessary to sell their property to build the stadium on that particular site.
According to an article in Capital New York, "The tenant is in one of the old buildings in the area that they needed to vacate, they had agreed on a price, then he changed his mind and the deal fell through," the source said.
So before anyone can take credit for what happened, or did not happen, with the new soccer stadium in the South Bronx we can say one thing: This is not the same old South Bronx and all new major projects will face a community that has matured and is concerned about what is best for the community.