The City Hall backed bid to build a giant cricket stadium in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to host 2024 World Cup matches in June came to a quiet end on Wednesday, when the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed a New York Times report that it would instead host matches in Eisenhower Park on Long Island.
The audacious plan to erect in a matter of months a “temporary” 34,000-seat stadium in New York City’s third largest park generated community pushback as soon as it was first reported in THE CITY, with politicians and advocates objecting to the idea of a for-profit sporting event in a public park while taking away access to cricket pitches, baseball and soccer fields, picnic areas and a running track, along with the potential for construction to damage the park and the project’s proximity to an enslaved African burial ground,
“It recognizes the importance of parkland, making it a big win for the people of New York City. I was. I didn’t really expect us to win so soon,” secretary of the board for the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, Karen Argenti, told THE CITY.
Referring to Mayor Erric Adams, who held a rally at City Hall to promote the scheme, Argenti added: “What did I say in the beginning? You’re not the king. You’re the leader. And you need to listen to your followers.”
The ICC’s plan also faced roadblocks including the possibility of state approval to alienate parkland and expected legal challenges.
Local officials applauded the ICC’s decision to move the event to Long Island, with Assemblymember Jeff Dinowitz calling it “an enormous victory for our community, Van Cortlandt Park, and parks in general” in a statement that was part of a joint press release with Councilmember Eric Dinowitz, his son, and Rep. Ritchie Torres.
Speaking with THE CITY on Wednesday, the assemblymember speculated that the community’s “unanimous opposition” and the prospect of a court battle deterred the ICC.
“How could they gamble on Van Cortlandt Park when there was a certainty that there would be litigation and there was a very good chance they’d be on the losing end of it?” Dinowitz said.
Local leaders and elected officials expressed frustration with the lack of transparency and community engagement as soon as THE CITY broke the news in July that the ICC wanted to build a stadium there, including in a letter of opposition signed by more than two dozen Bronx groups.
“It sort of got worse and worse,” Councilmember Dinowitz told THE CITY, referring to what he called City Hall’s “outrageous proposal” to proceed “with no community input”:
“They briefed us on this plan and then [we] come to find out that they’ve been working on this for six months. We come to find out they didn’t even consider the park alienation legislation. They didn’t even consider the ULURP,” he said, referring to the land use process.
““And they ended up not ever having a full community meeting about it after two months of asking them. Community members certainly weren’t heard in this case.”
The ICC did not respond to a request for comment about its decision.
“While we were hopeful that New York City would be selected,” City Hall spokesperson Amaris Cockfield said in a statement, “we invite attendees to stay in New York City hotels and to enjoy the incredible entertainment, cultural organizations, restaurants, and other attractions that make New York City the best destination for major events and visitors from around the world and that create economic opportunities for the hard-working New Yorkers who make our city run.”