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New stadium, team inching ever-closer in New York

Oct 6, 2012, 11:54 AM EDT

DC United v Houston Dynamo Getty Images

It’s time for our weekly update on New York 2. That’s shorthand for the hypothetical second Major League Soccer franchise in the New York market, a team that seems to become more likely with each passing day.

Friday was one of those days, both literally and metaphorically. That’s when league commissioner Don Garber briefed local media on the status of a new stadium in the Big Apple. According to the league, a deal could be finalized in the next 30 days, one which would see groundbreaking in 2014 ahead of a 2016 or 2017 opening.

The chosen site is at Flushing Meadows, out near the U.S.T.A. Tennis Center and the New York Mets’ Citi Field. The cost will be about $300 million, with a stadium capacity between 25,000 and 35,000.

From the New York Daily News:

“This is a project we have been dreaming about since the league was founded,” Garber said Friday at a briefing for news media. “Our goal is to bring the world’s game to the world’s park.”

To me, this kind of casual coverage is amazing. New stadiums just get built in MLS now? There are not huge headlines? As if we should be surprised? It’s something we expect? That’s amazing, but when you look at Houston, Kansas City, Philadelphia … Harrison … yeah – I guess this is the state of the modern MLS world. That time not-so-long ago when getting a soccer specific stadium was caused to sound the league’s trumpets? Gone. Now, Don Garber’s having press briefings as if there’s the league’s established a standard operation procedure for the stadium process.

And that’s a good thing. It’s an amazing thing. Most of the time, people forget about what the pre-Garber MLS was like (and as a testament to his guidance, a lot of new fans can’t remember it).

Now the expectation is that MLS franchises will have good stadiums, and there are various people within the league that know how to get it done. Hopefully, some of this experience can be leveraged in D.C. and New England.

But as it concerns New York, the stadium news brings better focus to the end game: a second team in the country’s biggest market. That’s an issue league diehards have kicked around for some time, but with this “world’s park” facility on the verge of happening, it’s worth bringing up again: Can New York 2 coexist with New York 1? Otherwise known as the New York Red Bulls. Will the new team cannibalize the Red Bulls’ casual audience? Why would this duel dual market work when Los Angeles’s has become a have and a have not?

There’s also the assumption that the currently semi-dormant New York Cosmos will eventually occupy the facility. Their brand is still more recognizable than Red Bulls’.

Bigger brand in the shiny new park that’s in the actual city (as opposed to New Jersey)? It doesn’t sound good for the Red Bulls.

  1. ndnut - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Did you purposely call it a duel market or is it a typo for dual market? I think that long-term RBNY should get a stadium in Brooklyn if they want to survive. Otherwise the entire NYC market will belong to NY2. A perfect model is looking at the NJ/Brooklyn Nets in the NBA. Their popularity has soared since moving to Brooklyn and they haven’t even played a game.

    • Richard Farley - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      Ha! Not on purpose. Wish it was! Just bad editing.

  2. ndnut - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    It made sense both ways.

  3. jerichowhiskey - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    It is pretty ironic it won’t be until about 2017 that the Harrison PATH station will be renovated, but the 7 line is shutting down the Times Square-Queensboro Plaza segment on weekends this month to modernize the signal system and improve other infrastructure. Port Authority should’ve been lobbied by RB Corporate to improve the station while RBA was being constructed. *rolls eyes*

    RBNY can still take fans from lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Anywhere else, Long Island, Midtown Manhattan and beyond (that means the Bronx, Westchester), and of course Queens residents will line up for NY2. At the end of the day, RBNY need to focus a good chunk of their marketing budget in New Jersey. The majority of their fans are from there anyhow.

    I think there’s room for both teams. It has always been the lack of a decent marketing budget, execution, and ideas from RBNY (and Metrostars) FO that has stalled this team in terms of attendance. For example, when Heck said there will be a huge marketing push during the summer working with RB Corporate, it turned out it was billboards of Henry, Marquez, or the team without any information such as the team’s Twitter handle, Facebook, or the website to get people to know what this team is about. Instead it was the team pushing the energy drink. For all anybody knew, it was a team in Salzburg trying to connect to fans in the soccer communities (like my in Jackson Heights). Great idea, poor execution.

    Also, RBNY need to improve on game day experience such as the commute, better and faster concessions, etc. These are things that many have complain about and why they won’t come back again. So far the only thing that’s really been an improvement is to make the empty lots in front of RBA into actual parking space (Why they neglected to build a bigger parking lot around RBA in the first place, I don’t freakin’ know).

    Frankly the main question RB Corporate are going to have to answer in 2016/17 is. Will people want to support an energy drink or a real team? The majority don’t like to be a corporate whore wearing a giant Red Bull logo in front of their jersey with the team crest being of Red Bull as well. I’ve always said, if Red Bull had just been on the sponsor logo but kept the team name or some other innocuous name, no one would be complaining or shying away.

  4. footballer4ever - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Sponsors have been an important part of football, but when that sponsor takes over and renames the club after their name, well, that will turn off many fans off who are not used to that, even footie fans. I am not from NY/NJ, but i would not wear their jersey even if given for free. NY Redbulls and Chivas USA are the worst team names in the league.

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