Mayor Eric Adams’ idea of bringing World Cup cricket to Van Cortlandt Park next year has met with some resistance following an emergency Community Board 8 meeting July 20.
In the same week that the news broke of the proposal by the International Cricket Council to ask New York City to host the 2024 T20 World Cup, community members and the board expressed their concerns about the potential impact on the city’s second largest park.
Deb Travis, chair of the parks and recreation committee, gave a report on the proposed 34,000-seat stadium that would take up 19.5 acres and would close the southeast corner of the park’s parade grounds from its construction in January to its demolition in July.
The event, which is slated for June 2024, would have four to six matches, according to presenters, and would have a staff of 4,000 to 6,000. There would be additional tents and a fan zone with food, beverages, batting cages, a stage for performances, and a broadcast area.
“The International Cricket Council advised the mayor’s office that they will be funding putting the site together,” CB8 Chair Julie Reyes said. “They will fund it 100 percent and that they are going to engage in capital investments in our community long after the stadium is gone so that the community benefits from the stadium.”
Additionally, it was estimated there would be an anticipated revenue of up to $150 million or more for the local economy.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz touched on some of the points he made in his joint statement last week with Councilman Eric Dinowitz and U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, particularly his concerns with park damage.
“They’ve showed us renderings of” the stadium, the Assemblyman said, “But the rendering doesn’t take into account a lot of things that are going to have to go on. It’s not only the stadium. It’s everything that’s going to surround the stadium, how the trucks are going to get in and out, what kind of damage they’re going to cause.”
The lack of information and guarantees of protection discourages the assemblyman from trusting the promises of future investments in the park.
Councilman Dinowitz expressed his disappointment in the Adams administration not sharing information with the public. He said CB8 should have been given the information that is available to him, and finds the idea of the public’s voices not being heard disturbing.
“Every weekend throughout the year I see the track meets at Van Cortlandt Park,” the councilman said. “There are big questions about what would happen to them and are they going to be moved out or even have the ability to run the track?”
Former CB8 chair Laura Spalter spoke about a proposal of a 55,000-seat stadium for musical performances from three years ago that the board disapproved of. At that juncture it was discovered there were about thousands of water heads and drainage issues. Spalter, now a board member, has concerns about similar issues being found after the stadium construction is done.
“When you’re dealing with millions of dollars in drainage and irrigation, you can’t be sure,” Spalter said. “It takes time to see if there’s a problem.”
Ciara Gannon, CB8’s former district manager, and now working in the borough president’s office, joined some of her old colleagues to share some of Vanessa Gibson’s thoughts on the project.
“Hosting an international event like the Cricket World Cup would help make the Bronx a global destination,” Gannon said. “Tens of thousands of tourists that this event would draw to the borough will generate significant revenue for our local businesses, restaurants and put a spotlight on all the amazing things happening in the Bronx.”
With that said, the president said they must get a full magnitude understanding of the impact the project could have on things like parking, traffic and noise.
Robert Kaplan, chair of health, hospitals and social services, said there is no data that proves there’s an economic benefit other than for “the pathway between the park and the local subway.”
Charles Moerdler, chair of the CB8 land use committee, said the stadium would be an opportunity to show the world that “we are really a cosmopolitan city worthy of being called French.” He says that they need to put together a list of things that need to be done to accept the stadium.
“Attitude matters,” said CB8 vice chair Sergio Villaverde. “And I think the attitude of this board — I’ve been on it for a couple years now — is often knee-jerk ‘no.’ And what happens when you do knee-jerk ‘no’ is that we’re no longer at the table.
“I think we need to be careful about the tone we put out, about the resolutions that we put out because people see that and say, ‘Well, we don’t need them legally so we’re just going to go around them.’”
Because of the legal issues and January deadline, Travis said it should be resolved that the board call on the Adams administration to “recognize that there is no viable path forward” for the tourney and that they should consider alternative locations.
Moerdler voted to table the resolution, also saying that they should get the pros and cons before making a decision.
“To put a resolution on the floor based on conversation is meaningless,” Moerdler said. “It’s impactive, it’s insultive.”
The motion to table was seconded by Julia Gomez, chair of the board’s youth committee.
On a 15-5 vote the resolution was tabled. The next CB8 meeting should be in September since they do not meet in the summer.