Monday, December 10, 2012

ML Soccer Spends $1.5M In Lobbying So Far For New Stadium-HR&A Associates Big Winner

John Alschuler, Chairman
Most of the MLS’s staggering  $1.5  paid in lobbying fees since March — $920,822 — went to HR&A Associates, a politically connected firm staffed with many ex-city officials. HR&A Chairman John H. Alschuler, Jr.,  (above) and Cary Hirschstein a principle in the firm (below) were front and center at back-to-back meetings last week representing Major League Soccer in its continued attempt to seize 13 acres in Flushing Meadows Corona Park to build a 35,000 seat stadium and concert venue. 

Alschuler spoke at MLS's rally on Tuesday and Hirschstein the previous night at the Queens County Board.  

Those funds however represent only a portion of the money being spent by MLS and do not account for many expenses including a host of advisors and consultants. 

Ironically Mr.  Alschuler, Jr., is also the Board Chair of the Friends of the High Line.


Beaudoin & Company LLC - $ 22, 500
Bolton St. Johns, LLC -  $ 52, 500
Dan Klores Communications, INC. D/B/A DKC Government Affairs -  $ 72, 500
Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, LLP -  $ 133,968
Global Strategy Group - $ 247, 800
HR&A Advisors, INC - $ 920, 822
Major League Soccer, LLC - $ 37, 814

Total: $ 1, 487, 907.000

Source:  New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics - Lobby Online Filing System

Cary Hirschstein
The big winner in Major League Soccer is its lobbying team.
The league is trying so hard to get a new stadium in Queens, it has paid lobbyists $1.48 million since March to score points with officials in Albany and the city, according to the New York Post. 
The spending spree to help secure government approvals for a planned $300 million, 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows Park is on pace to rival similar lobbying campaigns for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the failed West Side football stadium plan.
MLS honchos say fielding a brand-new franchise on the eastern end of the park is a top priority. They hope to break ground by 2014 and have a team playing there by 2016.
The project has divided the community.
Many soccer-starved immigrants support it, saying they don’t want to travel 30 miles to Harrison, NJ, to watch the MLS’s Red Bulls play. But activists say the park is already too commercialized considering it’s home to Citi Field, the National Tennis Center and potentially a mall which the Mets’ owners want to build.
“It’s a joke that [MLS] is spending money like drunken sailors for a project that has strong community opposition,” said Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates.
Most of the MLS’s lobbying fees — $920,822 — were dished out to HR&A Associates, a politically connected firm staffed with many ex-city officials.

Hundreds of community residents took to the streets yesterday in the rain to participate in the Take Back Our Park March to oppose three Bloomberg administration supported projects that would give away more than 50 acres of public parkland in Flushing Meadows Corona Park to private corporations,  including the proposed soccer stadium. (Photo:  Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.

MLS spokeswoman Risa Heller downplayed HR&A’s contract, saying the firm works mostly as “real-estate advisers” and only “occasionally” as lobbyists.
Although the MLS plan is supported by Mayor Bloomberg, it still needs city and state approval because the project would take up 10 to 13 acres of city parkland that, by state law, must be replaced elsewhere. Complicating the process is that the project footprint includes two worn-out public soccer fields the city is in the process of replacing as part of a $2.8 million project.
City officials declined comment when asked if it is fiscally sound to spend tax dollars on new fields that could be ripped up months later to pave the way for a stadium.
However, MLS president Mark Abbott said the league plans to “invest tens of millions of dollars” in improvements for the park, including replacing both fields and renovating others.
Supporters like Mark Montaya, 34, of Flushing, say the “project isn’t just about bringing pro soccer to Queens, it’s about improving public soccer fields in the heart of a community that loves the soccer.”
The league says it will build the stadium without government subsidies, but sources say MLS is seeking a 35-year, a $1-a-year deal with the city that includes no property taxes or revenue-sharing.
Julie Wood, a Bloomberg spokeswoman, said the mayor supports the project because it “would not only be welcome news for local fans — it would mean thousands of jobs and boost the city’s economy.”

Workers for MLS have been a constant presents in parts of Queens talking up the project and gathering signatures.

Read More:

Big Spending kick Soccer league’s $1.5M push for Qns. stadium
New York Post - December 10, 2012 - By Rich Calder

December 8, 2012

December 8, 2012

A Walk In the Park - December 5, 2012

A Walk In the Park - December 3, 2012

A Walk In the Park - November 30, 2012

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Under Siege
New York Daily News - October 22, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - October 10, 2012 

A Walk In The Park - October 9, 2012

A Walk In The Park - October 9, 2012 

A Walk In The Park - October 6, 2012 

A Walk In The Park - October 5, 2012 

A Walk In The Park - October 4, 2012 

A Walk In The Park - October 2,  2012 

A Walk In The Park - September 15, 2012 -  By Geoffrey Croft 

A Walk In The Park - June 23, 2012

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