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Bronx Residents Debate Plan For Major League Soccer Stadium

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A proposal for a new soccer venue adjacent to Yankee Stadium drew strong words on both sides of the issue at a town hall meeting in the Bronx Wednesday night.

The Yankees and Sheik Mansour Bin Zayed al Nahyan – owner of the Manchester City Football Club -- want to have a parking garage demolished and replaced with a $350 million Major League Soccer team New York City Football Club, according to multiple reports.

Community opposition kicked any soccer stadium plans for Flushing Meadows Corona Park, so the new plan was issued to put it in the Bronx, on River Avenue near Yankee Stadium. 

The city-owned parking garage would be torn down and G.A.L Manufacturing Corp, an elevator parts company on 153rd Street, would also have to move to make room for the facility.

The proposed stadium would occupy land from 153rd to 157th streets. Importantly, it would also do away with the entrance ramp to the northbound Major Deegan Expressway.

The soccer team was announced as the 20th Major League Soccer franchise last year, and is seeking to begin operation in 2015.

As 1010 WINS' Holli Haerr reported, some area residents said the idea would benefit the Bronx financially and culturally, particularly given the popularity of soccer worldwide.

"American baseball, apple pie, but we are generations of immigrants, and so many immigrants coming, and around the world, it's soccer which is called football," one woman said.

"We love baseball, but I think soccer is something that is valuable, and lots of people enjoy; it's the number one sport in the world," a man said.

But another woman said the stadium would be vacant most of the time and would actually be detrimental to the area.

"The traffic problems are horrible. It's not good for local businesses. After the construction, there won't be any new jobs. The site will be unused more than 300 days a year," she said.

Another took aim at the sheik and his personal fortune.

"Sheik Mansour's personal wealth is listed as approximately $12 billion. Why does the South Bronx have to build him in a stadium? How many jobs would a stadium create annually for only 35 games?"

Cary Goodman, executive director of the 161st Street Business Improvement District, said the town hall meeting was held to give residents an opportunity to speak before any plan it finalized.

"The last few times there have been development projects around here, the community has not been involved. Things went forward, and then the community caught up later or never caught up at all. This is a chance to give everybody, right from the start, a blank slate," he said. "There is no deal. What do you think?"

Haerr reported the town hall meeting was packed, with some people waiting outside to get in. Overall, the opinion was slightly in favor of the stadium, Haerr reported.

The meeting was civil with one exception, as a man began cursing and was escorted out, Haerr reported.

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