While David Beckham continues to take us to the edge MLS expansion news without actually making any news about the league’s 21st franchise – well, we think he does … the source is The Sun, after all – there are important developments happening around MLS No. 20. That’s the expansion club that actually exists, still in initial prep for a ballyhooed 2015 takeoff.
A day ago, one prominent New York news figure, none other than Mayor Michael Bloomberg himself, let slip that that big-time professional soccer’s first “club in the five boroughs since the 1970s” would call Yankee Stadium home.
Sound the news alarm bells! New York City FC has a home!
Only, not so much. The New York Times helped set things straight today. What The Times’ Sam Borden got from Bloomberg deputy press secretary Julie Wood:
The script for the mayor’s radio address on Sunday overstated the possibility that the New York Football Club could play some games at Yankee Stadium while they search for a permanent home. No decision has been made on where they will play. Wherever they end up, we are thrilled to welcome Major League Soccer to New York City, where pro sports are creating jobs and pumping millions into our economy.”
Oh … well. So, what did Beckham say again?
Seriously, let’s hope this is the case. Major League Soccer keeps improving its footing in the United States, and the steady improvement in venues is one reason. Getting away from renter status and into some proper facilities, ones that announce “you may now take us seriously,” has been essential in professional soccer’s gradual climb into greater relevancy.
We know that initially NYC FC will have to find a suitable, temporary home – but Yankee Stadium is the least appealing option in my mind. It’s harder to be taken seriously when you’re seen as an afterthought, playing a far distant second fiddle to the established neighborhood giants.
Even a much smaller, temporary home that would allow New York City FC to begin establishing its own identity and culture would be far preferable to Yankee Stadium. Think of little brother trying to establish his own mark in the world, something different than his highly successful big bro – all while wearing the old hand-me-downs and moving through the same schools as the heralded sibling. That’s a tough ask.
Plus, the soccer will stink. Yankee Stadium cannot accommodate a full-sized field. Small fields lead to matches that fall somewhere between reliably un-stylish, unattractive and just plain crappy. That’s the last thing this franchise needs as sophisticated soccer fans from the market wonder over to check out Major League Soccer’s new kid on the block.