The Rough Riders have long been known in the Long Island soccer community for running youth academies and annual soccer tournaments.
But the organization is now looking to take a major step into the professional ranks. Recently, Rough Riders’ president Peter Zaratin outlined a proposal to build a multi-million dollar soccer complex at the Brentwood campus of Suffolk Community College. According to a recent report in Newsday, the complex could cost upwards of $10 million but would come at no cost to the college, which is part of the state university system.
The proposed soccer complex would act as a public/private partnership and allow Suffolk Community’s teams including soccer, lacrosse and field hockey to utilize the field. The Newsday report indicated that the Rough Riders are willing to take part in a revenue sharing agreement for tickets, food and retail sales.
At the crux of the proposal is the Rough Riders desire to expand its presence in the United Soccer League, which is now seeking Division II status from U.S. Soccer. The organization currently has a men’s professional development team in the Premier Development League (PDL) and a women’s development team in United Women’s Soccer (UWS) league. In addition, Rough Riders is also a PDL affiliate of New York City FC.
Zaratin said the group is looking to be a feeder for Major League Soccer.
This past season, USL included 29 teams with four more — including two from the North American Soccer League — joining in 2017. A number of teams in the league are connected to MLS teams, with some also carrying the names of their parent clubs (i.e. New York Red Bulls II, LA Galaxy II).
The report also noted that college trustees raised a number of concerns about the proposal. Among them was whether a competitive bid would be required and if there would be ample parking on site on Rough Riders game days.
Zaratin said he was working on a tight timeline and is seeking an “expression of interest” from college officials about the proposal. He is hoping to move forward this spring to allow the first phase of construction to be completed in about a year.