The world’s second most popular sport has never been the most popular in the United States, but perhaps that may change as the International Cricket Council eyes not only New York City as the host of the 2024 T20 World Cup, but Riverdale’s Van Cortlandt Park.
Mayor Eric Adams’ administration has reached out to Bronx officials about the proposed temporary stadium that would seat 34,000 people and close off the park to the public for six months.
In a joint statement released by Councilman Eric Dinowitz, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, and U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, they expressed gratitude to see the Bronx recognized for such an event. However, they had a number of concerns regarding the proposal.
For one, the construction of a stadium would deprive residents from using a large portion of the park for a long period of time.
The construction would require the city to get approval by the state legislature to alienate parkland which could prove to be time consuming with that body not scheduled to meet again until next year. It would also possibly require a uniform land use review procedure, or ULURP, and an environmental impact statement.
Assemblyman Dinowitz says he can’t imagine the legislature sponsoring a bill to alienate parkland given the history of what the city has done to the park. Also getting a ULURP and an environmental impact statement is unlikely, Dinowitz said.
As for electeds’ second issue, they are concerned about significant negative physical impacts from constructing a stadium at the park.
“The likely damage to the Parade Ground and its underlying infrastructure and the impossibility of ensuring a full restoration and upgrading is concerning; the close proximity to the Enslaved African Burial Ground, coupled with the potential damage it may endure, is undeniably disheartening,” the statement said. “It regrettably reflects a deficiency in cultural comprehension and acknowledgement of the somber legacy entrenched within our city, a history we fervently endeavor to rectify.”
The lack of a guarantee to make improvements to the park and restricted access to New York residents who use the grounds for cricket make the electeds hesitate to accept the proposal.
The last issue they brought up was the safety and management of the proposed event. With 34,000 seats comes thousands of people and cars in an area that already has its heap of parking issues.
“If only 10 percent of the people coming to each game drive, that’s still 3,400 cars,” the statement said.
Sanitation and security is also a concern for the legislators, saying that in the past the city rejected their request for permanent assignment of PEP officers at the park and did little to address the issue of “large-scale parties” at the Shandler Recreation Area.
Assemblyman Dinowitz told The Press he has trouble envisioning the stadium’s construction with all of the issues he mentioned. In addition he finds it wasteful to construct a stadium that is used for two weeks, then dismantled.
He questioned why the city didn’t consider other venues like Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, which usually trade off home and road games.
One board member of the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance has the same apprehensions and concerns the electeds have about the proposed stadium.
“I think the concerns addressed by our electeds is what we have here at the alliance,” said Rabbi Bini Krauss, alliance board member.
“We can see a lot of great things happening at the park. This is the kind of project we would like to dig our teeth into.”
But he thinks the mayor would have to first come up with money to address safety and infrastructure issues before hosting such an event.
Without an answer to any of their concerns, legislators are unlikely to say yes to the proposal.
Community Board 8 iwas scheduled to hold an emergency meeting at the 5676 Riverdale office board office to discuss the matter Thursday, July 20.