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Astoria Park Needs a Pro-Size Soccer Field as Players Clamor for Space: Pol

 The councilman wants to build a soccer field in the center of the running track at Astoria Park.
The councilman wants to build a soccer field in the center of the running track at Astoria Park.
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Costa Constantinides' Office

ASTORIA — A local lawmaker wants to turn a patchy stretch of grass in Astoria Park into a professional-sized soccer field where local residents would "be able to play the world's game in the world's borough."

During his "State of District" speech Monday night, City Councilman Costa Constantinides proposed building a FIFA regulation-sized soccer field in the center of the park's running track, to answer what he says is a "clamoring" for a designated soccer space in the neighborhood.

"People complain about spaces intended for other uses being taken over by kids imagining themselves as the next Lionel Messi or Carli Lloyd," the councilman said.

He envisions the field as a place that local teams could sign up to use during designated time slots, as well as a spot for bigger soccer-related events that would draw visitors from outside the neighborhood.

"With the track’s position near the waterfront and the shadow of the Triborough Bridge, with such a beautiful back drop, this field potentially could be a marquee site for tournaments and other high profile games," he said.

The area inside the track is currently used by park-goers for a "litany of conflicting uses and activities," according to the council member. The space includes a long jump pit and grass that's worn down to dirt in some spots.

Constantinides estimates it would cost roughly $3 million to complete the project, including resurfacing the field with new turf. The Parks Department did not immediately return a request for comment on the proposal.

The soccer field was one of several ideas for Astoria Park floated by the councilman during his speech Monday, where he called for a $15 million "comprehensive plan for reinvestment" in the popular green space.

That plan includes spending $3 million to renovate Charybdis Playground, including a new spray shower and play equipment. He also wants to overhaul the bathrooms and locker rooms at Astoria Park Pool, and invest more than $1 million in controlling erosion at the park.

So far, $4.75 million has been secured for improvements at Astoria Park — including $4 million to turn the diving pool into an amphitheater and $750,000 for erosion efforts, a spokeswoman for Constantinides said.

The councilman plans to drum up the rest from "future city budgets," he said.

"Astoria Park is now over 100 years old, and it needs our care and investment to ensure that our neighborhood’s heart and soul will be there for the next 100 years," he said.