Ed and Lisa Mitzen, the founders of Business for Good, and a group of investors that includes Jeff Buell and Chris Spraragen proposed bringing a Major League Soccer Next Pro franchise to a new soccer stadium Thursday that would anchor redevelopment plans for downtown at Liberty Park. 

“The MLS NEXT Pro project will serve as a catalyst for the reinvention of Albany and will be a big part of our efforts to invest in the community in a meaningful way. It’s everything that Albany needs,” said Ed Mitzen.

Project renderings were released Thursday and included a proposed redevelopment of Liberty Park, located at the corner of Hudson Avenue and Liberty Street in Albany, planners said.

The group will seek permission from Capitalize Albany to redevelop parking lots at the park. In addition to use of the land, the group will seek support of New York state to finance development, expected to cost up to $300 million.

The stadium would contain 8,000 seats and could grow to hold 12,000 for non-sporting events, developers said.

“We are focused on bringing an MLS NEXT Pro team to Albany," said Charles Altchek, president of MLS NEXT Pro and executive vice president of MLS. "We are hopeful that the state and affiliate organizations will work to support the new development and stadium and the surrounding community infrastructure. The Mitzens are the ideal local leaders to drive this transformational project.”

“More than the money and jobs, Albany needs a morale boost,” Mitzen said. “The new MLS team could re-energize a revival of the entire area and bring back a sense of excitement and pride that the region has been desperately needing.”

Early reviews were positive, with Assemblywoman Pat Fahy calling the proposed plans an exciting new opportunity not just for Albany, but our entire Capital Region.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan called it "a once-in-a-generation" opportunity for the city that would bring housing and jobs, as well as economic activity to downtown.

"We cannot let this opportunity pass us by and I will do everything in my power to help make this a reality," she said in a statement.