Rooftop soccer kicks off at Upper 90’s Astoria retail shop

Teams compete at  Upper 90's rooftop soccer field in Astoria.
Teams compete at Upper 90’s rooftop soccer field in Astoria. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The future of NYC soccer is looking up.

Upper 90 is giving soccer enthusiasts a new place to get their kicks. And it comes with a view.

In addition to soccer gear and a cafe, the retail shop’s newest location features an outdoor rooftop pitch.

The soccer center, located on the border of Astoria and Long Island City, was born out of the desire to give locals more places to play, said Upper 90 co-founder Zachary Rubin.

“We did this project in Queens because, as a borough, it is horribly under-fielded,” Rubin said. “There just aren’t enough fields for adults or kids to play.”

The first Upper 90 opened on the Upper West Side in 2009. A Boerum Hill location followed in 2010, with a demo field in addition to the retail space. Its newest NYC location, at 34-23 38th St., is its first with playable fields.

“When we got the Queens location, we really wanted to create a holistic soccer experience,” Rubin said. “The same way brick-and-mortar retail has changed, Upper 90 has evolved.”

Taking over a former car dealership, the Queens store opened last year with an indoor field. Soon, Rubin and business partner Doug Gatanis turned their sights to the 10,000 square feet on top of the one-story building, previously used as a parking lot for the dealership.

To make a playable field, the LandTek Group installed FieldTurf (made with a sand and rubber infill “to make it play more like natural grass,” Rubin said), while Urban Soccer Park installed the field system, such as the boards and goals. To help prevent soccer balls from flying off the roof, there are also nets around the perimeter.

The two fields are smaller than your standard soccer pitch, designed for “five-a-side games” in soccer lingo (that’s four outfield players and a goalie for each team).

The seasonal field was completed in November and officially opened earlier this month, delayed by the cold spring.

Coed soccer league NYC Footy has already signed on as the official league partner. The growing recreational league, which primarily holds games at parks in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, needed more places to play; since NYC Footy started, its numbers have grown from roughly 100 players in 2011 to nearly 5,000 today, according to co-founder Tarek Pertew.

NYC Footy isn’t the only organization taking advantage of the new space. Upper 90 has also partnered with the soccer charity Play Soccer 2 Give, a fundraising platform that hosts five-a-side pickup games throughout the week at the soccer center.

“We bring people together to play soccer for a good cause, and this gives us even more opportunities to do so,” PS2G’s national director Caleb Olson said.

The center has also been a base for DV7 Soccer Academy, founded by World Cup champion David Villa to teach kids how to play in the style he learned growing up in Spain.

For those littlest of soccer hopefuls, Upper 90 hosts an open play session for toddlers weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon, during which tots can kick around balls and run around with their parents or caretakers.

The fields are for hire, too. “Anyone can rent them for parties, events or games,” Rubin said.

Upper 90’s rooftop field joins a small number already in action in New York City, from East Harlem public school Lexington Academy to Sunset Park soccer facility Socceroof.

Pertew of NYC Footy believes rooftop fields will become a growing trend as the sport grows in popularity here.

“This is the future of urban soccer,” he said.