Major League Soccer has told everyone for two years that a second team in New York City would soon become the league’s 20th franchise – and that dogged drive to make it happen did not always sit well with fans or media, many of whom wondered if expanding the league’s national footprint wasn’t more important.
After all, wasn’t there already a team in New York?
But maybe the masses didn’t understand the powerhouse ownership group being assembled.
Major League Soccer today announced that English Premier League club Manchester City, a recently fortified club now flush with oil money, and Major League Baseball’s powerful and influential New York Yankees will own and operate the league’s newest expansion club.
Branded as New York City Football Club (NYCFC), the league’s 20thy club is expected to kick its first ball in 2015.
“We proudly welcome two of the most prestigious professional global sports organizations to Major League Soccer,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement issued this morning. “This is a transformational development that will elevate the league to new heights in this country. The New York area is home to more than 19 million people, and we look forward to an intense crosstown rivalry between New York City Football Club and the New York Red Bulls that will captivate this great city.”
Assuming NYCFC does get going by 2015, the league’s 20th club will require an interim venue, pending a permanent home.
(MORE: Notes and other thoughts on today’s huge announcement)
Major League Soccer had attempted to get ahead in the venue game, working for more than two years to secure land and develop a facility within the city, helping distinguish this club from the New York Red Bulls, who have been with the league since its inaugural 1996 season but has always played in New Jersey. But the land and facility discussions long under way with community and business leaders in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens remain bogged down. That leaves MLS officials continuing to search for suitable sites.
This is unlikely to make fans happy in other markets thought to be in contention for Major League Soccer’s next expansion, including Miami and Orlando, which have moved aggressively over the past months to position themselves for a run at No. 20.
Garber said almost two years ago that Major League Soccer’s expansion fee for the second New York club would be $100 million.
(MORE: Why MLS was so focused on New York as the 20th market)
(MORE: Yankees, City, MLS officials plus NY mayor Michael Bloomberg set to discuss details tomorrow)