February 26, 2013
Vogt steps down as Met Oval president
By Michael Lewis
Jim Vogt, one of the driving forces behind the saving of the storied Metropolitan Oval in Maspeth, Queens, is stepping down as president of Met Oval after 18 years in that position.
In an exclusive interview with BigAppleSoccer.com on Tuesday morning, Vogt cited several reasons for his decision. Vogt said he was not leaving the facility as he will continue to be a founding partner and work on special projects for the 88-year-old soccer facility.
"It has come time to step aside for a lot of different reasons," Vogt said. "It's the right time for new people to come in and pick up the ball and run with it.
"After 18 years, you get a little tired. Your focus of attention shifts," Vogt said, adding of his experience with the Oval, "I don't regret it in any way."
Part of Vogt's reason to step down was professional, the other part personal. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family, which includes his wife Rose, son Michael (16) and daughter Gabriella (12).
"There comes a time when you've got to give back to your family," he said. "You know soccer; it never stops. It has become a 12 month a year program. It never stops."
Added Vogt, who turned 50 last year: "I guess I want to enjoy more of my life, too. I know my golf game is going to get better."
Vogt, who works in the printing industry, was one of the driving forces along with Brooklyn attorneys Chuck and Valerie Jacob in saving the Met Oval from foreclose due to the non-payment of back taxes in the late 1990's. The complex received funding from the U.S. Soccer Foundation and financial help from Nike. A FieldTurf Field was constructed and new lights were added. Since then the Oval has been home to Met Oval youth teams and the Brooklyn Knights.
For decades, the Met Oval was the home to many games -- youth, amateur and semi-professional in the metropolitan area -- before financial problems almost took it down in the 1990s. U.S. internationals such as John "Clarkie" Souza, Jackie Hynes, Mike Windischmann, Tab Ramos and Tony Meola performed at the Oval, among thousands of players who enjoyed playing the beautiful game.
"With the help of Chuck and Valerie [Jacob] to save Met Oval, that was one of my great accomplishments," said Vogt, adding that there were other achievements he was just as proud of.
That included the club participating in and being one of the founding members of the USL's Super Y League, a partnership with Nike, the establishment of a U.S. Soccer Development Academy at the facility and the overall improvement of the Oval.
While he won't be president any more, Vogt said he still will be involved with the club on other levels with special projects "that are conducive to New York soccer."
"I'm not going away from the game," he said. "It's a new chapter for me. I'm going to go on to new projects that energize me."
Vogt might have been the Oval's spokesman on many occasions, but he knew it certainly was not a one-man show.
"I have been blessed having worked with so many soccer people," he said. "The volunteers and Nike. The list of people has been tremendous. Those people have been so significant in helping me."
He said the list was endless.
"I say thank you," he said. "They know who they are."
Vogt said that he was gratified seeing former Met Oval youth players go on to careers outside of soccer, whether it was as a doctor, lawyer, fireman, policeman or a sanitation worker.
"To be a part of the growth and development of so many players, that is the greatest thrill," he said. "That is tremendous."
Vogt said the Met Oval would go on without him in charge.
"The Met Oval was built to last," he said. "The place won't be sold. . . . It's going to stay there. It's not going away."