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NY Cosmos soccer team plans Belmont Park stadium

NY Cosmos soccer team plans Belmont Park stadium

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) The New York Cosmos, which was one of the world's best-known soccer franchises of the 1970s and was resurrected last year after nearly three decades of dormancy, proposed Wednesday to construct a 25,000-seat, privately financed stadium at Belmont Park racetrack.

Plans for the $400 million project were submitted last week to New York's Empire State Development Corp., which will decide later this year on how to develop the 400-acre racetrack property in Elmont, just east of New York City.

A new soccer stadium could be an economic boon for struggling Nassau County following last year's announcement that the National Hockey League's New York Islanders were relocating to Brooklyn in 2015.

``This is an exciting prospect that will create jobs and complement Nassau's sports entertainment tourism plan,'' County Executive Ed Mangano said in a statement.

Seamus O'Brien, chairman and CEO of the Cosmos, called Belmont ``an ideal location and a win-win for everyone involved. Nassau County and Elmont will realize much needed economic growth, and local residents will have a year-round premier destination they can call their own.''

In the 1970s, the Cosmos played in the North American Soccer League, and attracted worldwide attention by signing some of the greatest players of the day including the legendary Brazilian star Pele, Italy's Giorgio Chinaglia and West German star Franz Beckenbauer. The NASL disbanded in 1984, but the Cosmos played one more season in 1985 as an independent team before folding.

Last year, the Cosmos announced plans to play in the revived NASL beginning in 2013; home games this season will be played at Hofstra University's former football stadium in Hempstead, N.Y.

The NASL of today is a second-division, small-budget league with teams in Atlanta; Bayamon, Puerto Rico; Blaine, Minn.; Cary, N.C.; Edmonton, Alberta; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and San Antonio. The top American soccer league, Major League Soccer, has a New York franchise, the Red Bulls, playing in Harrison, N.J.

The MLS last year proposed a stadium be built in neighboring Queens for an as-yet-unnamed soccer franchise to rival the Red Bulls. That team would play near Citi Field, the home of baseball's New York Mets.

MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche said in a statement Wednesday that the league is continuing to work with New York City and local officials on the Queens project. ``We continue our discussions with a variety of potential ownership groups, all who are very interested in being involved with the division I soccer league in North America,'' he said. ``MLS continues to support the development of the lower leagues.''

The Cosmos said in a statement that the team wasn't ``in a position to comment about any other stadium proposals,'' but added that the franchise believes ``in the strength of our proposal and the increasing interest in soccer both nationally and regionally.''

The Cosmos' proposal, called Elmont Crossings, includes nine new restaurants, retail space, a 175-room hotel and a 4.3-acre public park. Team officials say it would create more than 500 construction jobs and over 3,000 full-time permanent jobs.

If approved, the team expects to break ground in 2014. Retail sites would open in 2015 and the team could begin play in the spring of 2016.

A spokeswoman for the Empire State Development Corp. said proposals for the property are currently being evaluated for feasibility, economic impact and experience of the project team.

New York State Sen. Jack Martins, whose district includes Belmont Park, called the proposal ``an exciting project - a real game-changer for the community, the county and the state. It will create thousands of short and long term jobs and economic opportunity where we need it most.''

Each June, the racetrack hosts the final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. Cosmos officials say they would not schedule events at the soccer stadium on dates that coincide with major races at Belmont.

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AP sports writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

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Lamar Jackson received congratulatory postgame texts from Doug Williams, Randall Cunningham

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson received congratulatory postgame texts from Doug Williams, Randall Cunningham

Lamar Jackson's first NFL start against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday will go down as one of the most memorable days of his career.

Going 13-of-19 for 150 yards in the air while rushing for 117 yards on 27 attempts is a pretty solid day for a rookie quarterback

With several days to reflect, one of Jackson's favorite parts of the 24-21 win was the congratulatory texts he received from two former quarterbacks.

"I got a text from Doug Williams and Randall Cunningham congratulating me," Jackson said Wednesday. "So, that was pretty cool."

Williams, who became the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins in 1987, and Randall Cunningham, who had a long career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Ravens, are seen as trailblazers by Jackson.

The rookie QB noted that he has been in contact with the two prior to earning the starting job in Week 11.

"Those are the guys that paved the way for us," Jackson added.

"Without those guys, you know, we probably wouldn't be in the situation we are [in]. So, hats of to those guys. Them congratulating me, from the GOATS, I'm like, 'yeah, that's cool.'

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Capitals return home still short-handed, but with momentum after strong road trip

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Capitals return home still short-handed, but with momentum after strong road trip

The Capitals return home to play the Chicago Blackhawks (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington) after a successful road trip (3-1-0), but will still be without forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie (upper-body injuries), who remain day-to-day, according to coach Todd Reirden.   

Here are four things to watch:

Holtby’s back

After missing three games with an upper-body injury of his own, Caps goalie Braden Holtby was thrown into the fire down 4-2 at Montreal on Monday. But he played lights out and matched Habs goalie Carey Price save-for-save, finishing with 22 as Washington rallied for a 5-4 overtime win. Holtby now feels good enough as he will start against the Blackhawks tonight. In his past four appearances, Holtby has stopped 116 of 122 shots on goal.

New-look Blackhawks

Chicago’s slow start cost Joel Quenneville his job on Nov. 6. An NHL coach getting fired is rarely news. But when it’s a guy who’s been in his post for more than a decade and has won three Stanley Cups it is still jarring. The results are mixed since Jeremy Colliton took over. Chicago lost his first two games behind the bench, but is 2-0-2 in its past four games. That’s a small step in the right direction, but the Blackhawks are in sixth place in the Central Division.

Wilsonnnnn!!!!!

This was supposed to be the day Tom Wilson returned to the lineup after his 20-game suspension. An arbitrator cut that short last week so Wilson played on all four games of the road trip and had a goal and four assists. Not a bad start. Wednesday he gets his first home game of the year and what should be a raucous reception from the faithful at Capital One Arena. 

Old mates

On Monday, the crowd at Bell Centre booed former Canadien Lars Eller, who promptly took the puck up ice and scored the game-winning goal in overtime. It was a great moment for a player who felt Montreal gave up on him way too soon when trading him to the Capitals. Michal Kempny knows how he feels. 

Languishing on the bench for most of last season in Chicago as a healthy scratch – he played just 31 games - Kempny sees his old team for the first time since helping Washington win a Stanley Cup. Quenneville is gone, but the defenseman would love to show the rest of the organization trading him was a mistake. 

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