New York City FC is just under a year away from playing official games as the 20th franchise in Major League Soccer, but as the clock continues to wind down, NYCFC is still trying to iron out the details of where it’s going to play for the foreseeable future.
The expansion club is already set to begin their inaugural season in Yankee Stadium, which as you know is the home of the New York Yankees, but the New York Times is reporting that NYCFC will call Yankee Stadium their home for the first three seasons of play, starting in 2015.
The club, which is jointly owned by the Yankees and Manchester City of the Premier League, in England, is expected to make the official announcement next week.
The idea of a soccer team playing their home games at Yankee Stadium for even one season seemed a little odd to me, as I’m sure there will be quite a few complications to iron out.
For one, the MLB season and MLS season run pretty much simultaneously — MLB is April-September, and possibly October, while MLS runs from March to November. Obviously it would take a lot of schedule planning to make this work for not just one season, but three.
Yankee Stadium has hosted a few internationals soccer games over the past couple of years, but it’ll be interesting to see how they grounds crew handles the constant transitioning between baseball and soccer.
The NY Times report details some of the preparations that need to be made before games can be played at the park:
At an event in February to announce a summer exhibition game between Manchester City and Liverpool, Mark Holtzman, the Yankees’ executive director of nonbaseball events, said the team generally required several days to prepare for events and then several more to repair the playing surface for baseball. But he also noted that since its opening in 2009, the stadium has hosted soccer games as well as a schedule of summer concerts.
Also pointed out in the story is that exhibitions at Yankee Stadium have involved temporary grass being put over the dirt but that’s not a full-time solution.
“Technology has gotten to the point where I think we can turn it around pretty quickly,” Holtzman said.
“Baseball is clearly the No. 1 priority,” he added. “We wouldn’t do anything to put anyone at any risk; there’s a major investment here in the players. At the end of the day, we look at these opportunities very carefully, and we wouldn’t get into these opportunities unless we were confident in the end result.”
The deal to use Yankee Stadium gives NYCFC some more time to find a permanent home.
After community opposition derailed plans for a stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park last year, the Yankees turned their attention to a site near Yankee Stadium. In August, the Yankees’ president, Randy Levine, said the team was in negotiations for a nine-acre parcel between the Major Deegan Expressway and East 153rd Street that could accommodate a 25,000-to-30,000-seat stadium with connections to subways and rail lines.
But the team has announced no progress since then, and with the 2015 season less a year away, the announcement of a temporary home will buy the club some time.
I think this will definitely be something to lookout for next season when the team begins play in March. They still have a long way to go and a lot more things to do before game day comes, and the stadium issues are just one of many on the to-do list.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited for the team to begin play, and though I think it will be cool to see them playing games at Yankee Stadium, it’ll probably get old real quick. Let’s just hope something involving a new stadium can get done soon.