HOK will design New York City’s first purpose-built soccer stadium in Willets Point


HOK will design New York City’s first purpose-built soccer stadium in Willets Point

View of Willets Point Boulevard, an industrial area dominated by auto body shops and scrap yards. (Jim Hendeson/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

HOK and Turner Construction will be leading the main component of one of Queens’s largest forthcoming development plans.

New York City Football Club’s (NYCFC) soccer-specific stadium in Willets Point will seat up to 25,000 attendees, and will be built entirely with private financing. The larger development, which will include 2,500 units of fully affordable housing—including 220 for low-income seniors—a 650-seat public school, 250-room hotel, and ground-floor retail, is being overseen by the Queens Development Group (QGD), a partnership of Related Companies and Sterling Equities. Sterling Equities is the former majority owner of the New York Mets, whose stadium, Citi Field, is in Willets Point. Willets Point is generally characterized by its auto shops, which populate the area around Willets Point Boulevard, parking for Citi Field, and industrial sites. HOK and Turner will specifically be working on the stadium, while the architects and contractors have not yet been named for other components of the redevelopment plan.

HOK’s current sports sector work includes a Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium in St. Louis, and designed the recently-opened Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport. Turner’s stadium work has included SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and TQL Stadium for Cincinnati, Ohio’s MLS team. Together, HOK and Turner have completed over 400 projects across sports, entertainment, science, and corporate projects.

The $780 million stadium, financed by NYCFC, is slated to open for the club’s 2027 season—after the city hosts the FIFA World Cup—but first must go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure and a review by the City’s Public Design Commission.

The stadium’s proposed entrance will face 126th Street, “integrating into the city grid to optimize land use and incorporate public open space.” This would take advantage of connections to both Citi Field and the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, home to the U.S. Open, and maintain a “pedestrian-friendly scale,” HOK detailed in a press release.

NYCFC CEO Brad Sims added that the “project will be transformative for Queens; the World’s Borough is the perfect location to build the city’s first stadium for the world’s game.” While stadium-driven development plans have often come to fruition as archetypal white elephant plans—as is part of the concern over the Philadelphia 76ers’s proposed new arena—the plan has received some local support.

Former City Council member Costa Constantinides celebrated the plan, arguing for the importance of its proposed inclusion of open space, which would be a radical transformation from its current state. Speaking to more general development plans, Tom Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Development, argued that “Queens deserves more than just asphalt,” noting the sea of parking around Citi Field.

The affordable housing component, upon completion, will be New York’s largest, 100 percent affordable ground-up project in over 40 years. The City’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development previously stated that construction on the seven buildings of housing will begin this year, which is ahead of the initial schedule. Through the Mayoral initiative HireNYC, local residents can be connected to job opportunities. 

AN will continue to report on the Willets Point redevelopment as construction progresses.