NYCFC Picks HOK and Turner Construction to Build Queens Stadium

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New York City Football Club (NYCFC) tapped architecture firm HOK and general contractor Turner Construction Company to build its long-awaited soccer stadium in Willets Point, Queens, NYCFC announced Friday. 

The duo will design and build the $780 million, 25,000-seat stadium at the center of a mixed-use development that’s also due to include housing, a public school and retail, according to NYCFC.

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“We couldn’t be more excited,” Brad Sims, CEO of NYCFC, said. “We’re getting one of the absolute top sports architecture firms in the world and marrying them with one of the absolute top builders of sports stadia in the world. It’s almost a dream team for us.”

NYCFC, HOK and Turner plan to finalize the design of the stadium later this year, when it will be reviewed by the New York City Public Design Commission as part of the city’s lengthy Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. If the project scores approvals by the end of this year, the stadium will be on track to open in time for the 2027 Major League Soccer season, Sims said.

The entire development, including 2,500 affordable housing units, a 650-seat school and a hotel, is projected to create 14,200 local jobs during construction, according to NYCFC. And Turner plans to source most of the stadium’s construction workers from Queens, Charlie Whitney, Turner’s vice president and general manager, said.

“Part of our vision for this project is to engage contractors from the local community, as well as individual workers from the local community,” Whitney said. “[NYCFC] doesn’t want to build a soccer stadium. They want to build up a community.”

And HOK and Turner plan to get the project done on time and under budget, Whitney said. The duo has partnered before on a $750 million public health laboratory project in Albany and the 150,000-square-foot concert venue Shell Place in Canada. 

The completed stadium will run along the edge of 126th Street, also known as Seaver Way, and include public space, like pedestrian plazas, across the street from the New York Mets Citi Field, according to NYCFC. 

HOK plans to take inspiration from the Willets Point neighborhood in Queens to design the stadium, said Rashed Singaby, principal and senior project designer at HOK.

“The inspiration does not come from a project. The inspiration comes from the location,” Singaby said. “This is a stadium that represents New York, a world city, and represents Queens, which is the world’s borough with residents from every nationality and ethnicity across the world and every language spoken across the world. The stadium has to reflect that and be curated specifically to that identity.”

NYCFC’s new stadium will also include year-round events and programming for the Queens community when not hosting games, though Sims said it was too early to share specifics of the design.

The arena has been more than a decade in the making. The club first began searching for a permanent stadium before NYCFC had its first kickoff in 2012, but initial plans for a development in Flushing Meadows Corona Park were derailed by local opposition. 

The team has played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx for the past nine seasons while it searched for a new location, but won its first MLS Cup in 2021 despite the less-than-ideal terrain, The New York Times reported. It was also in talks to build a stadium in the South Bronx but that deal eventually fell through.

Mayor Eric Adams announced in November that the city had settled on Willets Point, a neighborhood known for its auto body shops, for the stadium. And the long timeline let NYCFC do its research, Sims said.

“We had a lot of time to do our homework,” Sims said. “So [the] bad news is, it’s taken us a while to get to this point, but the good news is we’ve got lots of best practices and really much more focused vision of what we want to accomplish.” 

NYCFC plans to privately pay for the stadium, though it is still in the process of structuring the financing, Sims said. The city, which owns the land where the arena will sit, will lease the space to a development team of Related Companies and Sterling Equities, the owner of a 5 percent stake in the Mets. NYCFC will pay up to $4 million a year for the 49-year lease, though the stadium owners will not have to pay real estate taxes during the lease, the Times reported. 

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.