“This is a very exciting opportunity for all of us here in Queens, whether you’re a small businessperson or large, whether you’re a corporation or not,” said Tom Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, at a briefing on the venture last week.
As Queensboro FC gears up for its United Soccer League (USL) Championship debut, the Queens Chamber will assemble a business advisory committee in order to ensure input from local enterprises and community stakeholders.
“We want this team to be in everyone’s heart,” said QBFC part-owner Jonathan Krane. “We look at this day as a kick off to building a larger relationship with everyone here.”
Also an integral part of QBFC’s ownership team is world-renowned Spanish footballer David Villa, who spent four seasons of his 20-year career in the sport playing for New York City FC.
Though NYCFC plays at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, Villa is no stranger to Queens and its potential in the world of professional soccer.
For years, Villa has been running branches of his DV7 Soccer Academy, bringing the finer points of the sport to youth all over the borough.
As QBFC develops as a franchise, Villa and his team will work to bring some of the world’s most talented athletes to the table, in addition to creating a youth academy program to grow and feed local talent into the league.
“Queens gives us everything,” Villa noted, “to help support kids who have a fierce dream, much like the one I had when I was a kid.”
According to QBFC chief business officer Adam Behnke, an independent survey by team management found that one in three of the 2.3 million residents in Queens is a soccer fan.
The cross-cultural support for soccer and strong sense of hometown loyalty make Queens a desirable location for one of two expansion teams joining the USL Championship’s nationwide roster of 35.
These qualities also make a Queens professional soccer team ideal for local business partnerships in the form of sponsorships, field sign advertising and media campaigns that can help brands grow simultaneously with the club.
“For us, it’s so important to be synonymous with ‘community’,” explained Behnke, “and get to know all of you folks here, hearing your feedback and working together to make this team successful.”
From next March to October, QBFC will play in the league’s Eastern Conference. Thanks to a recent partnership with ESPN, all USL games are available for streaming on ESPN+.
In terms of a pitch, QBFC is still in the process of securing a site large enough to hold an 8,000-seat stadium. The team hopes to incorporate art, fashion, food and music into the atmosphere of its venue.
Details about the new stadium will emerge as they are solidified, but Krane pointed to York College as an option the franchise has been exploring for a temporary locale while QBFC gains enough fan presence to expand to a larger space.
“I think this is a wonderful moment for Queens,” said Councilman Francisco Moya at the chamber’s presentation. “For me, having grown up not far from here and learning to play soccer in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on any patch of grass we could find, to have someone like David, who’s a living legend, come to our borough and really open the doors, it’s an incredible feeling.
“I picture some kid playing out in Flushing Meadows Corona Park one day actually wearing the jersey for Queensboro FC,” he added.