Bruce Brodoff Communications
Bruce Brodoff Communications
Minor League Team in Boro?
By Bryan Virasami and Patricia Hurtado

A Mets minor league baseball team is considering a Queens home after plans to put an interim home at Brooklyn's Parade Grounds fizzled yesterday in New York State Supreme Court.

The baseball diamond at St. John's University in Jamaica could become the team's interim home for the next two seasons.

"We are one of the sites under consideration for the team," St. John's spokesman Jody Fisher said, declining to elaborate.

The city pulled out of the plan to put a stadium for the Mets Class A team in Toronto at the Brooklyn Parade Grounds yesterday, citing Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden's lawsuit in which he called for environmental and community review. Golden also sought to open negotiations to allow for a higher class team, possibly Class AA.

But that suit became moot after the city announced during the hearing its intention to scrap the Brooklyn proposal.

"The plan to build a facility at the Parade Grounds is dead," assistant corporation counsel Christopher King told Judge James Hutcherson.

Dave Howard, the Mets senior vice president for legal and business affairs, said Queens is now the preferred location for the team.

"We're looking at Queens but at this stage we're not in a position to identify any one of the sites we're looking at right now," he said.

The idea was attractive to Prospect Park area residents because it would have included restoration of the athletic fields at the Parade Grounds. After two years, the team would have relocated to a yet-to- be-built permanent home, a 6,500-seat ballpark in Coney Island.

But the fate of the Coney Island proposal is also now uncertain, although it remains the Mets' preference for the permanent facility. The local community board opposed the stadium unless the city promised to also erect an amateur sports complex at the site.

After the hearing yesterday, Michael G. Carey, president of the city's Economic Development Corp., cited Golden's refusal to drop the lawsuit as the basis for the pullout.

"It is unfortunate that the borough president blocked a project that was designed with input from, and embraced by, the community he represents," Carey said in a written statement. "This is a lost opportunity and it is the people of Brooklyn who will lose out as a result of the borough president's recalcitrance and arbitrary refusal to compromise."

The Class A minor league team was also expected to be a boon to Brooklyn.

"Brooklyn blew it, the team deserves to be in Brooklyn," said Joe Dorinson, 63, baseball author and history professor at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University. "Queens will be the unintentional beneficiary of this dispute." Greg Brooks, chief assistant to the borough president, did not want to comment specifically on yesterday's development.

"We want to work with the community toward reconstructing the Parade Grounds for the people of Brooklyn who use them and not for other organizations," he said after leaving the court.

The Mets team, currently playing in Toronto, would compete with a Yankees farm team, which played its first season at a stadium in Staten Island last year, according to Bruce Brodoff, spokesman for the Economic Development Corp.

Brodoff said he could not confirm what other sites are being considered for the team.

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