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Possible temporary homes for New York City FC

May 22, 2013, 10:06 AM EDT

Chelsea's John Mikel Obi and Paris St Germain's Maxwell battle for the ball in the second half of their team's friendly soccer match at Yankee Stadium, the home of the New York Yankees baseball team, in New York Reuters

After more than three years in the making, yesterday Major League Soccer announced that the 20th franchise will be called New York City FC. Yeah, it was kind of a big deal

However, this news has been coming for a while.

But in amongst all the excitement and rigmarole from Manchester City and the New York Yankees — who will be the owners of the the new franchise — one key factor has gone slightly missing.

Where will NYCFC play?

Yes, we all know about the MLS Stadium plans in Queens. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to give an update on that and more later today, so check back here for that. But NYCFC are expected to join MLS for the 2015 season, giving less than two years for a stadium to be constructed. That’s not possible.

Building a stadium in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens has hit a few snags, to say the least, in recent months. The New York Times’ George Vecsey discussed those issues superbly this morning. And in this very blog yesterday evening, Steve Davis brought up MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s comments about having “no plan B’ for anywhere other than Flushing Meadows Park for the new MLS franchise to be based.

So are there alternatives for an interim home for New York City FC in the New York metro area, while a new stadium is being built? You betcha.

Yankee Stadium

The most obvious choice right off the bat. The Yankees involvement in this deal my very well include their stadium as the temporary home for the first two or three seasons. On Saturday Manchester City will play Chelsea in a friendly and Yankee Stadium has hosted plenty of big friendlies between the top European sides in recent years. Was all that in preparation for an MLS franchise to play there for a few seasons? The one big thing is the turnover between baseball and soccer matches. With the seasons running at the same time, MLB and MLS will have to work together to schedule games accordingly. This could be a great opportunity to keep the club in New York City proper and snag some Yankee fans to NYCFC’s fanbase. Update: Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner on NYCFC at today’s press conference: “Well, tentatively we are working on them playing at Yankee Stadium.”

MetLife Stadium

Probably a complete no-no. But still, you never know. Massive stadium that would probably be a quarter full for MLS games, could NYCFC transform an NFL venue like Seattle does or maybe the ‘Caps who only use the lower bowl at BC Place? It could work. Big stumbling blocks include poor transports links out to the stadium and a lack of atmosphere being created. And oh yeah, the fact that Met Life is in New Jersey. That’s a biggie.

Red Bull Arena

Another non-starter perhaps. But look at how the Home Depot Center is shared by LA Galaxy and Chivas USA. It is possible. The Red Bulls are the new rivals for NYCFC but they could certainly help them out with a temporary home. It wouldn’t sit well with RBNY fans and sharing a stadium with your local rivals diminishes the rivalry, in some cases. But when you think about AS Roma and Lazio, it can work. But highly unlikely. Also, the New Jersey issue raises its ugly head once more.

Columbia University Stadium

Not many have mentioned this idea. But it could be one to think about. Columbia University’s football stadium is located in Manhattan is close to the 215th street stop on the subway and would be relatively cheap to upgrade and place temporary seats in. Like the Vancouver Whitecaps did at Empire Field for their inaugural MLS season, a temporary home with flexible seating arrangements can work for small periods of time. Columbia’s soccer stadium could also be redeveloped and is close by, but the capacity will be very small. Look no further than Buck Shaw Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes, for proof that this is a viable option. Maybe.

Citi Field

This one is highly unlikely…but I’m going to throw it out there due to its proximity to the potential new home of NYCFC in Flushing. Just a stones throw away from the proposed new stadium plan MLS has been working on for over a year, the fanbase could grow in the local area while the tam plays at a temporary pitch at the New York Mets’ stadium. It wouldn’t be ideal, but like Yankee Stadium, Citi Field has hosted soccer games in the past.

(More: MLS may be backpedaling on Queens as NYC site)

  1. docstraw - May 22, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    with the Yankees involvement in the team, it would be odd for the eventual home of NYCFC to be in the Mets’ Queens backyard. I can’t imagine that the Yankees would want that. Of course, it all boils down to available real estate and development approval. Still, for a lifelong New Yorker like myself, that would be a strange thing.

  2. danielofthedale - May 22, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    It really seems like the Whitcaps style upgrade to Columbia’s football stadium would be the best thing from a soccer viewing perspective. 15K-ish fans right around the field would be a great atmosphere, much better than being stuck in a baseball stadium where the fans are so far removed from the action. Its in what a non-New Yorker would think is a great location. Not having to go to New Jersey for MetLife or Red Bulls Arena since the whole point of NYC2 is that people don’t want to go to Jersey it seems.

  3. jhalion - May 22, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    The idea of the team playing at Columbia football stadium isn’t a bad at all. Two subway lines and metro north makes the trip a lot easier than getting out to RBA. As a New Yorker, I’m very excited for this move!

  4. valiantdraws - May 22, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Columbia’s track needs to go. Ugh.

    Yankee Stadium seems alright, but…what about low-attendence games?

    Why don’t they erect a temporary stadium, like Vancouver did?

  5. ndnut - May 22, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    The Bundesliga plays games with running tracks around the field and they lead Europe in attendance

  6. ndnut - May 22, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    The Bundesliga plays games with running tracks around the field and they seem to do alright.

  7. ndnut - May 22, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Sorry. I thought I didn’t hit post the first time.

  8. aaroncsmithbk - May 22, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Columbia would be a great option. Perhaps they’ll consider it a longer term option with some kind of shared stadium with major upgrades. seems the only possible way to get a stadium in the city without putting it out on the fringe.

    having a manhattan locations would be ideal. Have to say, going to flushing from Brooklyn by train is no better than going to NJ, maybe worse.

  9. bobinkc - May 22, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    A major problem I see for using a big stadium is the same problem the Kansas City Wizards (nee Sporting Kansas City) had when the “Whiz” was playing in Arrowhead Stadium (home of the Chiefs): 5 or 6 thousand people in a stadium built for 70,000+ was comical until you realized that the best of those seats were 30 or 40 yards from the near edge of the pitch. You really needed binoculars to see the other side of the field.

    Another potential problem would be getting ESPN or NBCSports to broadcast the games. We got our butts royally chewed the first couple of times NBC broadcast an SKC game because we usually stay up top on the concourse until just before game time (my seat is in the second game and, with a bad back, I just can’t haul it up those stairs more than twice a game at best. After the first couple of games, they let up on us because Midwesterners are just stubborn enough to do what we want to, not what some tv group wants. When you see a Sporting game on MLS, you see a very full side compared to most of the other teams once gametime is close (Portland and Seattle come to mind as possible exceptions). The corporate seats below the cameras are also very full (100% sellouts so far this season), but those folks don’t start coming out of their little suites until after the kickoff.

    What it boils down to is that I see yet another team headed for the Jersey side because NYC just can’t seem to handle anyone but the Yanks and Mets having a stadium on New York soil.

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