The Slots That Roared
The Mouse That Roared, was a successful 1959 British satirical comedy staring Peter Sellers and Jean Seberg that debuted in 1959. The plot line centered about an imaginary country in Europe called the Duchy of Grand Fenwick. The Duchy would declared war against the United States, with the desired outcome being to lose. Their premise was that defeat would cause their tiny country to be showered with the massive foreign aid that United States always pours into a vanquished country. Defeat would become victory.
Thinking about this film has made me wonder if the surprising rush to build soccer stadiums on the part of both Major League Soccer, and now, the Cosmos, is really about soccer, or is it just part of a cynical scheme?
MLS wants to build on parkland in Queens; the Cosmos on state owned land next to Belmont Race Track.
I keep on trying to figure out why the MLS organization is so hot to build their stadium over the landmark Fountain of Industry pond, one of the most popular locations during the 1964 World's Fair. Stealing parkland aside, it's a totally stupid location. It isn't really close to mass transit, and their stadium would literally be built in the middle of the natural course of the Flushing River. The location was flooded by Hurricane Sandy.
Their "big lie" has been that the Pond is useless, dirty and hated by everyone. If water features are disgusting crap in a park, Central Park, located in Manhattan (the hub of our mass transit system) has 150 acres of them that need eliminating. Certainly one of the ponds in Central Park could be improved by a stadium. That would be the location that MLS would fight for, the one with all the transportation; not a location in Queens.
Perhaps the answer is this:
If the stadium were to fail as a soccer venue, it could be converted to a casino, just as Aqueduct Raceway was. The Aqueduct casino, Resorts World New York City generated nearly $630 million in revenue in its first 12 months from slot machines. The desired MLS location is on the east side of the park, right next to downtown Flushing, a neighborhood where "gaming" is popular. Very, very popular, to say the least. The neighborhood on the west side of the park is the place where the residents are supposedly "soccer crazy"; but that's not where MLS wants to put the "stadium". The downtown Flushing location would be the "Mother Lode" of slot operations.
As for the Cosmos at Belmont, the value of a location next to a horse track is obvious.
Soccer has been tried for years in the United States and has not taken off. We have baseball, football, basketball, tennis, golf, and hockey - does anyone really think soccer is going to take off now, after all these years of stumbling along? Why did MLS spurn the offer to have their team play at Citi Field? That move would be a no-brainer. If the team did well, they could then start to talk about needing a stadium.
Of course, the casino plot is just a theory. But the idea that soccer would be wildly successful in the New York City area is also a theory - one which experiments to date tend to disprove.
The one thing we can be sure of, is that the slots at Aqueduct make a roaring sound that stirs those who put money above everything else.