After more than three years in the making, yesterday Major League Soccer announced that the 20th franchise will be called New York City FC. Yeah, it was kind of a big deal
However, this news has been coming for a while.
But in amongst all the excitement and rigmarole from Manchester City and the New York Yankees — who will be the owners of the the new franchise — one key factor has gone slightly missing.
Where will NYCFC play?
Yes, we all know about the MLS Stadium plans in Queens. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to give an update on that and more later today, so check back here for that. But NYCFC are expected to join MLS for the 2015 season, giving less than two years for a stadium to be constructed. That’s not possible.
Building a stadium in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens has hit a few snags, to say the least, in recent months. The New York Times’ George Vecsey discussed those issues superbly this morning. And in this very blog yesterday evening, Steve Davis brought up MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s comments about having “no plan B’ for anywhere other than Flushing Meadows Park for the new MLS franchise to be based.
So are there alternatives for an interim home for New York City FC in the New York metro area, while a new stadium is being built? You betcha.
The most obvious choice right off the bat. The Yankees involvement in this deal my very well include their stadium as the temporary home for the first two or three seasons. On Saturday Manchester City will play Chelsea in a friendly and Yankee Stadium has hosted plenty of big friendlies between the top European sides in recent years. Was all that in preparation for an MLS franchise to play there for a few seasons? The one big thing is the turnover between baseball and soccer matches. With the seasons running at the same time, MLB and MLS will have to work together to schedule games accordingly. This could be a great opportunity to keep the club in New York City proper and snag some Yankee fans to NYCFC’s fanbase. Update: Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner on NYCFC at today’s press conference: “Well, tentatively we are working on them playing at Yankee Stadium.”
Probably a complete no-no. But still, you never know. Massive stadium that would probably be a quarter full for MLS games, could NYCFC transform an NFL venue like Seattle does or maybe the ‘Caps who only use the lower bowl at BC Place? It could work. Big stumbling blocks include poor transports links out to the stadium and a lack of atmosphere being created. And oh yeah, the fact that Met Life is in New Jersey. That’s a biggie.
Red Bull Arena
Another non-starter perhaps. But look at how the Home Depot Center is shared by LA Galaxy and Chivas USA. It is possible. The Red Bulls are the new rivals for NYCFC but they could certainly help them out with a temporary home. It wouldn’t sit well with RBNY fans and sharing a stadium with your local rivals diminishes the rivalry, in some cases. But when you think about AS Roma and Lazio, it can work. But highly unlikely. Also, the New Jersey issue raises its ugly head once more.
Columbia University Stadium
Not many have mentioned this idea. But it could be one to think about. Columbia University’s football stadium is located in Manhattan is close to the 215th street stop on the subway and would be relatively cheap to upgrade and place temporary seats in. Like the Vancouver Whitecaps did at Empire Field for their inaugural MLS season, a temporary home with flexible seating arrangements can work for small periods of time. Columbia’s soccer stadium could also be redeveloped and is close by, but the capacity will be very small. Look no further than Buck Shaw Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes, for proof that this is a viable option. Maybe.
This one is highly unlikely…but I’m going to throw it out there due to its proximity to the potential new home of NYCFC in Flushing. Just a stones throw away from the proposed new stadium plan MLS has been working on for over a year, the fanbase could grow in the local area while the tam plays at a temporary pitch at the New York Mets’ stadium. It wouldn’t be ideal, but like Yankee Stadium, Citi Field has hosted soccer games in the past.