On Monday, the New York Times broke the news that Major League Soccer’s newest MLS franchise, New York City FC (NYCFC) — which is slated to begin play in 2015, will be playing its first three seasons in a baseball stadium.
NYCFC is set to publicly announce that the expansion franchise will play from 2015 through at least 2018 at Yankees Stadium.
Since the team was announced last May, many questioned where New York’s second franchise would play. In January, the team told MLS officials that they would have a plan in 30 days. Approximately 104 days later the team has their temporary solution, a baseball stadium.
This delay hurts not only the team but also the league. Because of NYCFC’s failure to finalize a solid stadium plan, prime marketing and advertising opportunities were wasted, not to mention they are one year behind in season ticket sales.
However, that’s not the worst part of this whole situation, Major League Baseball and MLS seasons run concurrently. Yankee Stadium, a place that was designed as a baseball-only facility, does not have the designated width for soccer, which makes the pitch narrower than normal.
In 2013, when Manchester City played Chelsea in an exhibition match, grounds crew worked around the clock to replace the infield with temporary grass for the match. And now the grounds crew will have to do this from March-October since there are 81 baseball games, and 17 soccer games.
Situations in New York aren’t looking very good. And on the other side of the coin, David Beckham’s MLS dream has hit yet another road block this week when a group called the Miami Seaport Alliance, led by former vice president for government relations for Royal Caribbean, John Fox, took out a full page ad in The Miami Herald newspaper that states although they support MLS Miami, they believe there are other sites more suitable for the stadium because a stadium in PortMiami would pose a risk to jobs, cruise and cargo operations and “the port’s promising future.”
As we all know, Beckham and his group have said numerous times that a stadium in PortMiami is the ideal situation, but they are also looking at a piece of land near Marlins Park.
Although Beckham has said time and time again that the stadium would be built with private funding, the Miami Beckham United LLC is seeking a state subsidy that could amount to approximately $40 million in State subsidies over a timespan of 20 years.
While MLS has specifically told Miami, Atlanta, and Orlando that they will only get a franchise if they get the stadium, which Orlando and Atlanta have obliged, the league is simply allowing New York’s second team to play at a baseball stadium for three years without a solid stadium plan in place.
It makes you wonder why MLS can’t just give Miami the franchise and let them play at FIU Stadium, a college football stadium that is better suited for soccer than Yankee Stadium.