Soccer has a New Home at Yankee Stadium
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 22- Officials of the New York Yankees and the New York City FC (NYCFC) were present at a press conference that was held at Yankee Stadium on Monday to announce that that the iconic ballpark will be the first home venue for the NYCFC when the team begins its first season in MLS (Major League Soccer) in March of 2015.
Tim Pernetti, the Chief Business Officer of the new club in the MLS, stated its goal originally was and still is “to find the right community to build a soccer specific stadium in New York City.” He stressed that the 20th member of the MLS intends to play its games within New York City.
Attempts have previously been made to plan construction of a new stadium in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens and in the South-west Bronx, but resistance from residents has thus far thwarted those efforts from being successful.
With less than one year remaining before the new MLS season will begin, a home for the new club to play had to be named. All those officials on the dais presented realistic reasons as to why Yankee Stadium fits the bill.
Pernetti pointed out, “The Yankees are no strangers to soccer. They understand the needs of our club. This is the first MLS season that will be played within New York City.”
As part owners of the club, the Yankees organization has a vested interest in it being successful in every measurement of that term. Transforming the baseball field into an acceptable soccer pitch has been done before and is already been thoughtfully planned for 2015.
Soccer was played at the original Yankee Stadium from 1931 through 1976. Two world class soccer matches have been played at the current Yankee Stadium in each of the past tywo years and a match between Manchester City and Liverpool, two of the powers in the English Premier League is scheduled to be played on July 30.
Lonn Trost, the COO of the Yankees, using a chart, explained the particulars of the use of the stadium by NYCFC: The baseball capacity of 49,681 will be lowered to 33,444 for soccer, the pitch will measure 110X70, 17 games will be played in the Bronx during the regular season, field conversion to the other sport will take three days.
The schedule of playing dates between the Yankees and NYCFC will be worked out without difficulty. According to Randy Levine, “They [MLS] know we know what we are doing.”
One of the main benefits of playing in Yankee Stadium is accessibility, which was mentioned repeatedly during the press conference.
Pernetti remarked, “Yankee Stadium is one of the world’s most legendary sports venues and a great and accessible location for fans.”
The Sporting Director of NYCFC, an experienced soccer star who captained the Red Bulls, commented on its attractiveness to world class players, “By having our home facility at Yankee Stadium, we feel even more confident that we’ll be able to attract top-level talent from around the world to our organization. Top athletes want the opportunity to showcase their talents at the world’s most famouis sports venues, and Yankee Stadium is such a venue.”
Although not present at the press conference, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. issued a statement supporting the team’s playing in the Bronx, “The Bronx is thrilled to have the New York City Football Club makes its home in Yankee Stadium. This will lead to more visitors to our borough, which in turn will mean more tourism dollars and more people discovering the ‘New Bronx’.”