In what could be a turning point in soccer’s growth in the United States, the New York Yankees have partnered with English Premier League club Manchester City to form New York City FC.
According to reports, the new team will begin play in 2015 as the 20th team of Major League Soccer. The baseball giants and successful soccer club will combine their vast experiences in sports, and wealth, to create a successful sports franchise in the No. 1 media market in the U.S.
“New York is a legendary sports town, as well as a thriving global city with a rapidly expanding soccer fanbase,” said City chief executive Ferran Soriano said according to the Telegraph. “We are thrilled to contribute to the energy and growth of New York City soccer.
“In the Yankees, we have found the absolute best partner for developing a world-class sports organisation and a winning team that will carry the New York City Football Club name with pride.”
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner reflected Soriano’s sentiments, as the two came together for the $100 million expansion fee to purchase the franchise.
“We are pleased to be associated with this major move by MLS to increase its presence in New York and to enhance the opportunity for New York soccer fans to enjoy high-level play in their own city, " Steinbrenner said. “We look forward to working with Manchester City to create something very special for the soccer fans of New York.”
City will be the majority shareholder, and the Yankees will be active in managing the club, with current Yankee team president Randy Levine expected to take the reigns.
Where the team will play still has to be decided. According to MLS.com, an interim venue will be found, but both sides would like to build a permanent stadium, with the area of Flushing-Meadows Corona Park in Queens the leading landing spot.
Yankee Stadium could be the interim venue, as several of the world’s top clubs, like Chelsea FC and Real Madrid, played exhibitions there last year. Chelsea and City will play another exhibition at Yankee Stadium Saturday.
While the New York Red Bulls do carry the city’s name, they currently play in Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. NYCFC would be the first professional club to hold matches within the city’s limits since the New York Cosmos folded in the mid-1980s. That team played throughout the city, including at Yankee Stadium before also moving out to New Jersey.
The Cosmos stuck around for the better part of two decades, in part to their winning ways with legendary Brazilian Pele and a slew of top-European talent. The New York Daily News pointed out the fervid, winning-obsessed New York fan base, and how they won't tolerate a team that would serve as a minor-league club for City.
“This might happen,” Soriano said. "“We’ll make extensive use of our knowledge and expertise. We will use resources like our extensive scouting network. We have a year and a half. We will look at players both in the U.S. and other places. It’s actually a lot of work.”