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Metropolitan Oval

About this listing

The city's oldest soccer field

Place Details

Borough : Queens
Neighborhood : Maspeth
Open Space, Play

Place Matters Profile

By Adrienn Mendonca

I visited the Metropolitan Oval soccer field in July 2004. It was a long way from Manhattan by subway and bus and I got rained on three times en route. But I started having fun when I finally arrived around 5:30 in the afternoon and found the place packed and the crowds going crazy. Chuck Jacob and Jim Vogt were there -- two of the people who saved the field in the late 1990s -- and I convinced them to talk to me from the sidelines while they mowed the field and watched the end of a game with Met Oval’s Brooklyn Knights. I could see the Manhattan skyline from where we were standing.

Here’s what they told me:

“The size of our field is 4.2 acres. We’re the oldest continuously used soccer field in the country. German and Hungarian immigrants assembled the property in 1925 to...

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On The Web

Metropolitan Oval website

Nominations

Jim Stubbs

A half century before the term “soccer mom” entered our popular discourse, and many decades before soccer was commonly played by mainstream American kids in New York, there was the Met Oval -- which became one of the most famous European-style soccer fields in the country. Built in 1925 by and for the Hungarian and German immigrants of Maspeth, Queens, the Met Oval has been a recreational and social hub for generations of those immigrant families. As the neighborhood demographics inevitably changed, starting mid-century, the field and its social hall fell into disrepair and then, almost, to foreclosure by the city. Late 1990s: enter a small band of serious soccer enthusiasts (including one long-time Met Oval member) intent on saving the field and its tradition of turning out soccer greats. Today, Greek kids from Astoria, Russian players from Brighton Beach, and West Indians from Eastern Parkway are among the dozens of immigrant groups represented on the teams that train and compete here year-round.

The Met Oval is largely unknown outside the community of serious soccer players and those passionate about the sport. So it is appealing as a "well-kept secret" of the city’s cultural landscape. But it is also appealing for the story of its preservation. In its reincarnation as a nonprofit facility, the Met Oval now serves immigrant families citywide. The Met Oval Foundation is preserving a place and a tradition, while fulfilling a 21st century mission: to provide serious youth soccer players with a top-rate facility, quality coaches, regional and national competitions, and college recruitment opportunities.

In terms of potential threats or opportunities, a change of use would be the biggest threat - but that seems unlikely given the mission of the Foundation. The field sits high on a ridge with a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline -- the loss of that setting would diminish the facility. Positive changes include the possibility of recreating a building on site to reference the original social hall.



Nick Tanis

Metropolitan Oval in Maspeth, Queens may be the oldest, continuously used soccer field in the United States. Founded by immigrants in the 1920s, it has been a welcoming and important place that matters to generation after generation of immigrants and soccer players.


Website : https://placematters.net/node/1347

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