The borough’s world-class waterfront park is now home to the world’s game.
Brooklyn Bridge Park unveiled three new soccer fields, a picnic peninsula, and a playground on Pier 5 on Thursday — giving fans of “futbol” and other field sports something to cheer about.
“To have a facility of this quality in the area and to attach these kind of views to this beautiful new turf, it can’t be beat,” said St. Francis College assistant soccer coach Sinan Selmani, who hopes his squad will practice and play some home games at the nearby park rather than trekking to Red Hook Park for practices and to Aviator Sports and Events Center in Mill Basin for games. “I’ve played all over, and these are the best fields with the best views in the country.”
The new five-acre space — which cost $26 million to build — features three synthetic turf fields that can be combined to form a regulation-sized pitch for college play, or split for recreational or youth leagues.
The faux grass tops an organic infill of sand and coconut fibers, while tall nets protect the East River from kickers who happen to bend it a little more than Beckham.
Soccer players can’t wait to get their hands — errr, feet — on the new open space.
“It’s heartening to see facilities like this that grow and promote the sport,” said Jerome de Bontin, general manager of the New York Red Bulls. “Our youth that will play on these fields will learn lessons in hard work, teamwork, and dedication.”
When not in use by soccer players, the fields can accommodate sports including lacrosse, rugby, cricket, flag football, and ultimate frisbee.
The Pier 5 fields will be open to the public, but school teams, youth clubs, and adult leagues can claim time slots through a permitting process. Park planners say there will be plenty of demand for the pitches until as late as 10 pm, when the open space will close once lighting damaged by Hurricane Sandy is repaired.
“We’re going to prioritize youth and school groups, but we think there are going to be a number of adult leagues that will want to play here as well,” said Regina Myers, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, who expects the lights to be fixed this winter.
Neighborhood activists expect the fields to be bustling with activity.
“Open playing fields are something that people have wanted for a long time,” said Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association. “We’re going to see them used all the time. There will be an enormous demand.”
With the debut of Pier 5 and the soon-to-open Squibb Park Bridge, 42 percent of Brooklyn Bridge Park, which welcomed borough residents onto its lawns in 2009, is complete, park planners say.