During its time in the modern day North American Soccer League (NASL), the New York Cosmos have played at a number of local venues. Between the seasons at Hofstra University, playing U.S Open Cup matches and the NASL Final at Belson Stadium in Queens. The Cosmos played a one off match at MCU Park in Coney Island against the Ottawa Fury until they finally made the move official in the Cosmos final season in the NASL.
With the announcement that the Cosmos will participate in the 2019 National Premier Soccer League Founders Cup and in a full professional season in 2020, the Cosmos have to find a place where they can grow for years to come.
Some of the options the Cosmos management team might be considering.
MCU Park - Coney Island, Brooklyn
This appears to be the most popular choice on social media amongst supporters. The Cosmos officially moved to MCU Park in 2017, when Rocco Commisso purchased the club, which was the final season in the NASL.
MCU Park is the home to the Brooklyn Cyclones, the short season affiliate of the New York Mets. The stadium has a capacity of 7,000. Fans have a lot to love about MCU Park - its access to public transportation, amenities that include stadium seating, beer and food concessions, and a distinct Five Points supporters section. Views during fireworks displays and evening matches are superb. Supporters traveling from Long Island sometimes raise complaints about commutes, and a new professional rugby team intends to play home matches here starting 2019, but MCU Park is a true professional venue for players and supporters in an urban setting.
Rocco Commisso Stadium At Columbia University - Inwood, Manhattan
Credit: Columbia University Athletics
The Cosmos reserve team played at Rocco Commisso Stadium last season in the National Premier Soccer League, as New York Cosmos B. The venue has an intimate feel, and there are no bad sightlines. While it is relatively accessible via public transportation, its location at the northernmost tip of Manhattan is fairly isolated from most areas of the city. From midtown Manhattan it's about a 30-40 minute subway ride. While this could be mitigated with temporary structures/vehicles, there is little to no amenity infrastructure.
In its favor is that Rocco seems to have a good relationship with Columbia University, which makes this a viable option.
Belson Stadium - Jamaica, Queens
The New York Cosmos played at Belson Stadium for a number of U.S Open Cup matches, as well as the 2016 NASL Final against Indy Eleven. Belson Stadium is a nice intimate venue, but also suffers from limited amenity infrastructure and a no-alcohol policy. The location is not particularly close to mass transit, but it is a short bus ride away from a major transit hub conducive to fans traveling from Long Island or Queens/northern Brooklyn.
Many fans have echoed a common sentiment regarding sports teams - namely, that one must have a home they control in order to prosper in the long-term. While a number of sites have been mentioned over the years where a modular stadium might be constructed, it is unlikely that the Cosmos organization will invest in such an undertaking as expensive as even a temporary modular stadium until the regulatory landscape improves.
Most stadiums the Cosmos have played in have lacked a professional environment for players and supporters. In the past some people have even brought up the fact that at Hofstra they couldn't drink beer in their seats or that Hofstra has bleachers as the reason why they won't return to a Cosmos match.
The experience at a stadium is important for every club but especially in the New York market. There's tough competition in the sport and entertainment market.
For the New York Cosmos this decision is very important for the future of the club. Let's end years of playing in multiple venues and find a stadium that we can grow in over the next couple of years. This is a new opportunity for the club. Let's run with it. Hopefully our future will be bright in a professional league with independent clubs.