A stadium for New York City FC – tougher than you think

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It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? “Build a stadium.”

Yes, we understand that it’s more than just erecting four grandstands and laying sod. You have to find a site and develop an integrated plan within a bigger community picture, etc.  But at some point, we just figure that ideas scratched out on napkins evolve smoothly into architectural renderings and then merge into the hard-hatted construction phase.

We watch on a live construction site webcam until the time for virtual tours and picking our seats and then … voila!  “Say, where is the shortest beer line around here?”

Yes, would that it were all so easy-breezy.

Those closest to the facility game in New York know better – and they know a lot better.

A heavy percentage of today’s New York Times story of Major League Soccer’s newest club, the league’s No. 20, is devoted to the quagmire of facility challenges to come. The story is chalk full of the onerous nitty-gritty ahead.

One of the great details, according to the piece from Charles Bagli and Ken Belson, is that Manchester City was willing to foot the bill on its own – hardly a surprise considering the Abu Dhabi owner’s fabulous riches. But …

… Manchester City decided in the last week to team with the Yankees. In doing so, it gained a wealthy local partner well acquainted with building a stadium and navigating New York’s often treacherous political and regulatory shoals. Manchester City’s owners are also hoping that a partnership with the Yankees will shield them from criticism that a stadium project in the park represents a sweetheart deal for Arab royalty, according to team executives.”

And in that paragraph we begin to get a feel for the dense politics involved here. But wait … there’s much more. Because that before we even get to those “regulatory shoals,” the site selection is an absolute muddy swamp of local politics.

Make that a massive “quicksand” pit, seemingly capable of swallowing up whole projects. From the Times story:

To build a home for the team, the city, the league, Manchester City and now the Yankees must win over half a dozen community boards, the city planning commission, the City Council, and potentially state and federal agencies — a process that will take months, if not years. Some of the constituents oppose ceding parkland to a foreign billionaire.”

Some of this is the regular, regional sausage making process – ugly and difficult – not too unlike facility development in any urban area, but military grade strength in the nation’s largest city. They’ve been going through this stuff in New York for more than 50 years, since the vilified Walter O’Malley stole the beloved Dodgers and moved the team west amid dogfights over facilities, land rights, political turf, etc.

But look at that last line in the excerpt! Talk of ceding parkland to a silver spooned, foreign billionaire will put additional monkeys in the wrench.

The story helps explain why big projects in New York, especially sports facilities, will always be wrought with obstructions, especially when it comes to “the use of public resources for wealthy team owners,” as the story says.

New York City FC and MLS officials are talking about use of a temporary facility for a year or so. Anyone beginning to lean toward the “or so,” on that one? And perhaps a frustratingly long “or so” at that?

(MORE: Possible temporary homes for NYCFC)

(MORE: MLS possibly retreating on Queens as a landing spot)

Wigan player races off for son’s birth after scoring 2 goals

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WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.

A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.

[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]

A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.

“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”

Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.

The 2 Robbies podcast: PL sides in the UCL, Pulis sacking and more

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In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Europa League preview: Arsenal looks to wrap up Group H and more

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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.

[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]

Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.

The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.

European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.

Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.

Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad — 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse — 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti — 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria — 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin — 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya — 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva — 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim — 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka — 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien — 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon — 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha — 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin — 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys — 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET