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More issues with Yankee Stadium as New York City FC’s temporary home

Feb 24, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT

Yankee Stadium will be converted into a soccer stadium for NYC FC during the season. Yankee Stadium will be converted into a soccer stadium for NYC FC during the season.

Here is something else to chew on while we ponder: is New York City FC’s apparent plan of playing at Yankee Stadium for a year or two merely a bad idea, or is it a historically awful idea?

Seriously, poor sight lines for fans, dreadful proximity of the seats and a surface that is likely to be too small and poorly suited for soccer is no way for the newest high profile club to begin its days and nights in Major League Soccer. And that’s not to mention all the stigma attached to playing as renters, setting up camp in a place inexorably associated with baseball and with one of American sports’ most iconic forces (the Yankees).

This is regression into the bad old days of MLS 1.0. The perfect, temporary solution may not be out there – but there are certainly solutions that rate above this one.

How interesting it would be if the club gets saved from itself in this important matter of venue selection. (Because, honestly, we all know that “temporary” could possibly mean three, four or five years … or more! If you follow MLS at all, you know all too well that nothing is easy when it comes to facility development.)

This story from Empire of Soccer says “concerns from Major League Baseball have become a constant road block” in discussions that would make Yankee Stadium the temporary home.

Baseball officials are worried about potential damage to the surface ahead of baseball games.

Chances are, this will be resolved, and this Yankee Stadium thing will happen. Deep sigh.

It’s not just those sight line issues, the proximity to the field and a surface that will inhibit Jason Kreis’ team from playing the way it would like that make Yankee Stadium such a bad idea. History has shown us the importance of Major League Soccer teams getting it right immediately – or at least not getting it horribly wrong.

When marketing, sales or branding matters start in the wrong direction, it’s so difficult to arrest the wrongway momentum and get things turned around.

  1. Ian's Rushtache - Feb 24, 2014 at 7:03 PM

    An awful venue for some footy. I am a huge Pool fan and was looking forward to seeing them again this summer after going to Baltimore to see them against Spurs. As it is now, looks like I am going to have to drive a long way from PA. No way in hell I am going to a baseball stadium for a footy match.

  2. talgrath - Feb 24, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    I know a lot of New Yorkers might hate me for this…but why not just play in the Red Bulls’ stadium until the NYFC stadium is done? Would it really be that terrible for the two New York teams to temporarily play in New Jersey?

    • jerichowhiskey - Feb 24, 2014 at 7:27 PM

      For a team espousing that it will play in NYC proper to stake the claim that it is indeed a NYC team and not one that plays in NJ, yes it will be terrible.

      • talgrath - Feb 24, 2014 at 7:53 PM

        So what are their other options? If Yankees’ stadium is a no-go, your other options are try to find another professional soccer team to host you until then, play at some local college’s soccer field, play on a football field or delay your debut.

        There are colleges in New York City with soccer fields, but they aren’t exactly major colleges, City College has fewer than 14,000 students so at best their capacity is a couple thousand (though I expect far less, I can’t find any pics of their field), Brooklyn College has pics of their soccer field and it looks like they have some stands that they wheel out of the rain like you might find at your local rec center.

        In American football, if they play at MetLife stadium (home of the Giants and Jets) they are going to be in New Jersey too; the only sizable football field for a college is for Columbia University and comes in at 17,000 in capacity; not bad, but you’re playing on turf and have to work out a deal with the college.

        If there’s no college field to use and no viable football field to share in New York City proper, that leaves one last option, share space with another professional soccer team. The only USL Pro team in New York City proper is the FCNY, capacity 5,000, no go there. The Cosmos’ field will be big, but it also won’t be open until 2016 and there’s no way in hell the Cosmos will let a team from a rival organization play on their field. That leaves the NYRB, in New Jersey, unless you’re able to pull a decent capacity soccer stadium in New York city out of thin air.

  3. joosetiger - Feb 24, 2014 at 7:45 PM

    Why don’t they explore a simple, yet effective temporary stadium by following the model of Vancouver Whitecaps. They invested significant infrastructure to make a nice looking, temporary structure that was meant to last one season. It was designed to be able to be disassembled and largely recycled or repurposed. It even looked fine on TV. It was an intimate venue but with a full crowd, it looked better than permanent places like buck shaw stadium in San Jose or an empty Home Depot Center for Chivas USA. The hard part in NYC: finding a piece of land. I imagine that they would need to get on this ASAP if it were to be a reality and in place by next season. Get workin…

  4. mlsconvert88888 - Feb 24, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    If they do play in Yankee stadium, I’m curious about what the quality of the sod used to cover the baseball dirt diamond will be. It seems like it would have to be something very similar to the sod they brought in on pallets for the USMNT qualifier in Seattle.

  5. andregurov - Feb 24, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    I’ve never been to Yankee Stadium, but I went to just about every home game for the New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers/Storm back in ’97-’99 (hosted in Zephyr Stadium, a baseball field) and the viewing quality issues were killer. Playing in a baseball stadium is a horrible way to start the club’s relationship with New York off. It seems for a club as well run as MCFC this is a curious decision.

  6. danielofthedale - Feb 25, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    I still think playing at Columbia’s football stadium is the best bet short term and maybe long term as think the stadium could be expanded to around 25k and from what I have seen is close to a subway stop. And I am sure that the owners of this team have the cash to maintains a grass field there if they want to and reach an agreement with the University if they really wanted to.

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