The New York Cosmos have been forced to relocate from Hofstra’s James M. Shuart Stadium to a new field, following three championship wins.
While the Cosmos remained successful on the field, business dealings started to undermine the North American Soccer League (NASL). The Ottawa Fury and Tampa Bay Rowdies joined the up-and-coming United Soccer League and Minnesota United FC moved up to the Major League Soccer (MLS). Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, Rayo OKC, the Jacksonville Armada and the Cosmos were having financial troubles, according to ESPN FC.
The Cosmos almost ceased to exist at the end of 2016. Rocco Commisso, a television businessman, bought into the franchise and allowed it to get back on its feet.
The minor league team averaged 3,451 spectators at the Hofstra stadium, ranking No. 9 out of the 12 teams in their league. But that is not to say that they do not have vocal supporters. Oscar, who prefers to go by his first name only, is a spokesman for 5 Points, which is one of the Cosmos’ most passionate fan bases.
As a Nassau County resident, Oscar is sad to see the team move away, but is glad Hofstra will no longer host.
“As a supporter, we are glad the club is done with Hofstra. It was almost as if Hofstra went out of their way to make a game day experience miserable not just for supporters, but for all fans,” he said. He went on to explain that his frustrations were with the lack of concessions, the schedule and a difficult commute for those from the boroughs.
“As for us in the offseason – we never wavered [in] our support. If the team was to take a season or two or 10 seasons off, we were prepared to remain loyal to the club no matter what. Thankfully we are ready to play again in 2017 and we will be right there to support,” Oscar said.
On April 1, MCU Park will host the defending champions’ home opener.
“Our move to Brooklyn is a great opportunity for us. It is far more accessible via mass transit, the Brooklyn business community has been tremendously supportive and we’re looking forward to helping the continued revitalization of Coney Island,” said Cosmos Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover.
In a prepared statement, Stephen A. Gorchov, the associate director of Athletics for Communications at Hofstra said, “We thank the New York Cosmos for their time at James M. Shuart Stadium and wish them well in their new venue.”
WRHU, who used to cover Cosmos games, is disappointed by the diminished opportunity for students to get real world experience.
“I wish them the best of luck this season, but will miss their games here at Hofstra,” said Ryan Connell, a former WHRU broadcaster. “At the same time, I understand that they are also a business and needed to make a business move.”
Brandi Hutchinson, a junior radio, television and film major, was disappointed. “ I feel like Hofstra definitely could have advertised the Cosmos better. It just seemed to go over everyone’s heads as if it wasn’t a huge deal,” she said. She attended a few games and said she would have attended more if they stayed.
While the Cosmos are gone, their mark remains on campus. Within Margiotta Hall are remnants of a franchise’s past. Lockers with Cosmos logos engraved on them and large wall signs remain. A professional soccer dynasty’s most sacred spot – where coaches deliver a game plan and players would bond – sits there without even a door to protect it.
“The locker rooms in Margiotta Hall and Shuart Stadium will continue to be used by visiting teams and guests of Hofstra University,” Gorchov said.
“At the end of the day, the University’s mission and the goals and objectives of a professional soccer team simply didn’t line up. There are no hard feelings and we continue to work together on several things including first team training sessions and Cosmos B matches,” Stover said in a statement.
“Make history happen,” reads one of the signs. History did happen here and it has been left in the books.