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Queens residents fight to block sheik's purchase of park land

Residents do not want a sheik building a new stadium.

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (NYC Parks Department)

People in Queens are trying to block a billionaire sheik from buying land to build a soccer stadium.

The Fairness Coalition of Queens, a group that works to protect Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, rallied outside the United Arab Emirates embassy yesterday to protest the potential move.

Councilman Peter Vallone said he does not want the city to sell 13 acres of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park land to Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates.

Mansour, a billionaire member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, wants to build a 35,000-seat soccer stadium inside the park for a new Major League Soccer franchise, Vallone said.

The city could do this for $1, Vallone said.

“One dollar for land in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park? That’s the worst land grab since Peter Minuit paid $24 for the island of Manhattan,” Vallone said. “Sheikh Mansour's self-serving financial scheme would never fly in Central Park, and it certainly shouldn't be able to take flight at the expense of precious parkland in Queens."

Added Queens resident Leandra Requena, who protested at the embassy, “Our park is not for sale.”

Mansour owns the English franchise Manchester City.

His bid to buy the stadium has also encountered resistance because of concerns about his country's human rights record, one that the Fairness Coalition said represses human rights.

Councilman Daniel Dromm raised concerns about "a country where being gay or lesbian is a crime punishable by death," according to the Telegraph.

The city administration did not respond to a request for comment this afternoon.

An official announcement is reportedly expected May 25,when Manchester City faces off against Chelsea at Yankee Stadium.

 
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