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The scene is 2006, MLS is looking to put yet another team in the New York City market. MLS commissioner, Don Garber, met with many groups such as the Cosmos and even the ownership group of the Mets, but nothing panned out.
Then, Manchester City FC and the New York Yankees teamed up and submitted a bid for an MLS expansion team. They got it and all of a sudden a huge market was opened up for the MLS.
The MLS had a ‘New York’ team in the Red Bulls, but they played in Harrison, New Jersey at Red Bull Arena, which is a very nice stadium. It may just be the most European stadium in the MLS along with Allianz Field (home of Minnesota United).
However, the NYCFC bid was intriguing. A New York team that played their games in New York, it was a huge win for the MLS as well as New York soccer fans.
NYCFC’s proposed plan was to play in Yankee stadium for three years while their soccer-specific stadium would be built. Many new expansion teams do this. For instance look at FC Cincinnati or Minnesota United. Those two teams played on temporary grounds while their main home is being built. Even David Beckham’s club Inter Miami is doing this.
The first three years were a success for New York City FC. Averaging over 22,000 fans per game in their first three seasons. They were even home to some of soccer’s biggest names such as Frank Lampard, David Villa, and no other than the Italian maestro himself, Andrea Pirlo. All three of those players are long gone now. Lampard is coaching at Chelsea, Villa just retired after having played two seasons with Andres Iniesta at Vissel Kobe, and Pirlo retired after the 2017 season. Once those three left, New York City FC hasn’t attracted a big name, and there's a reason why that is.
As mentioned earlier, the proposed plan was to build a soccer-specific stadium while they used Yankee Stadium for three years. That never happened. NYCFC has had many potential stadium proposals, but none of them ever worked out. From the New York Islanders snatching up the limited land to build a stadium in New York before them to even NYCFC proposing to tear down a factory and parking garage but the plan was turned down by the mayor because it was going to all be public funding, something the mayor was strongly against.
New York City FC even proposed a stadium on an abandoned airport that they were going to tear down. This was turned down though because it was ‘too close’ to the Citi Field (home of the New York Mets) and the Mets demanded NYCFC pay them $40 million in compensation for being too close to their home ground.
As the years roll on for New York City FC they have attracted less and less star power. This is due to the infrastructure they play in. Star players would much rather go to LA or Miami now as the two New York teams in MLS play outside of New York and in a baseball stadium. Despite playing outside of New York, at least the Red Bulls play in one of the coolest stadiums in the league. Red Bull Arena will be home to New York City FC. Yes, you heard that right. NYCFC’s rivals team home turf will be their own home throughout the Concacaf Champions League as both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field (NYCFC has played there when Yankees and NYCFC's schedules conflicts) both were not approved by Concanaf.
Years tick on for New York City FC and fans are becoming more angry that the teams haven't made a move yet, or even have a proposed plan go through. Since their inaugural season in 2015, the team's average attendance has gone down from over 29,000 to 21,000.
Playing in a baseball stadium is a bad eye for the club and the league itself. If a proposed stadium plan finally goes through, NYCFC instantly becomes one of the league’s hottest teams and they can compete with LA for the battle of star players. It’s truly now or never for the boys in blue over at New York City Football Club.
A writer who loves to learn and share.
All Editorials written by Chris Dailey