New York has never been much of a one-team town. Soccer fans in the Big Apple will soon have two choices when it comes to MLS. The league announced Tuesday that an expansion team is coming to New York in the 2015 season. The New York City Football Club will have the backing of an organization with a little bit of experience in the marketplace: the Yankees.
NYC FC’s majority owner is Manchester City of the English Premier League. (Manchester City’s principle owner is Sheik Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi.) The Yankees are a minority owner, but team president Randy Levine will oversee the preparations for the soccer squad’s debut. The club will become the 20th MLS franchise and the league’s second in the city, joining the New York Red Bulls, who play in New Jersey.
New York has a bit of experience with this sort of thing. In 1958, the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers bolted for the West Coast. The Bronx Bombers aren’t exactly the kind of team that gets lonely, but Major League Baseball didn’t give them much time to think about it. The Mets arrived in 1962.
In the NBA, the New York Knicks had a cross-river rival in the the New Jersey Nets, but the allure of the big city won out in the end. The Nets moved to Brooklyn last fall. The NFL’s Giants and Jets keep calling NYC their home while playing their home games in New Jersey. And the NHL has its own divided Big Apple audience with the Rangers and Islanders in the city and the Devils in the Garden State.
The Red Bulls, who made their MLS debut in 1996 as the MetroStars, are saying the right things about their incoming neighbors. General Manager Jérôme de Bontin released a statement posted on the team’s website Tuesday:
“We are supportive of MLS expansion, as it illustrates the growing interest of soccer in North America. We also want to congratulate MLS and the League’s new ownership group, which is injecting additional resources to help develop our sport across the country. Today’s announcement is one of many steps in the exciting and challenging process of building a competitive MLS club.”
The Red Bulls play in Harrison, N.J. In 2015, NYC FC is expected to play in an interim facility. League officials have said they hope to build a new stadium in Flushing near Citi Field, the home of the Mets.
Manchester City won the Premier League championship in 2012. The Yankees win the World Series … well, a lot. Whether their across-the-pond partnership can generate an American success story in the global game remains to be seen.