A NYCFC Stadium in the Bronx—Will it Work?

IMAGE, BILL REESE

BY BILL REESE
Contributor

New York City F.C., the new Manchester City and New York Yankee owned MLS franchise set to debut in 2015, are gauging interest in a private parcel of land right by Yankee Stadium to build their home field.

Both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal offer details about the potential move.

When I made my list of 10 possible sites for a NYCFC stadium back in July
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I omitted the site of the old parking garage just south of Yankee Stadium. That location had been bandied about at the time, but when I looked at it on a Google Maps overlay, I saw no way that a new park could fit on that site. With today’s report in the New York Times that the Yankees and City would consider purchasing a building to the west of 153rd Street across from the old parking garage, I now believe that this site could very well work for a new Soccer-Specific-Stadium (SSS).

Pros:

• It’s all about synthesis. City FC will almost undoubtedly begin play in 2015 at Yankee Stadium, and as they grow their fan base, they want to get that fan base familiar with the Bronx. Building a stadium two blocks south of the “New House” will not only be a smooth transition for their founding fans, but it will also make the area a mini sports Mecca, as is the case with many other cities in the U.S.
• The reason Flushing Meadows Corona Park was so appealing as a stadium site is because of its proximity to both the region’s commuter trains and subways as well as the region’s highways. The Yankee Stadium site is not quite as well-situated as FMCP, but 50,000 Yankee fans have been making the trek there 81 times per season, and for the most part, the operation runs smoothly (even if Phil Rizzuto leaves in the seventh inning to beat the traffic.) The site is adjacent to three major subway lines (to service the city residents), a brand new Metro North Railroad station (to service suburban and city residents), as well as the Major Deegan Expressway (to connect fans from the northern and Long Island suburbs).
• Being that the Yankees continue to get great attendance in the face of lackluster performance, a state-of-the-art SSS next to Yankee Stadium serves as pretty much the best billboard that NYCFC can buy. You’d imagine that the teams would schedule home games when the other club is out of town, so fans leaving the stadium and waiting on the 161st Street platform could gaze southwest at the soccer park and think to themselves that they ought to catch a match sometime.
• This is the point of the story where people bring up “the immigrant soccer-loving population” and “ethnic pandering.” If you believe in that sort of thing, you may very well look at the South Bronx and see opportunities to appeal to rabid fans of the sport. If you’re not a fan of that sort of thing, you’ve been paying attention to Chivas USA for the last eight years.

Cons:

• There aren’t a lot. There are challenges to overcome, but they are not insurmountable considering the Yankees’ prowess and local influence, as well as City’s bankroll. The main one, as you can see, is size. Even if City purchase the lot across 153rd Street, they would still have a tough time fitting a 25-30,000 seat stadium on that site. If they did, they’d have very little room for team offices, even for a team parking lot. One would imagine that City would build themselves a practice field nearby, possibly the Westchester suburbs, but certainly not on that site.
• The club would have to purchase the site of a factory to the west of the old parking garage on 153rd Street. The Times report says that City would offer to re-build the factory for their owners elsewhere in the Bronx. But, knowing how big the Yankees are and how rich Abu Dhabi is, I wouldn’t settle for anything less than a state-of-the-art factory. And I’d want it guaranteed. We all remember the bait-and-switch that happened with the Macomb Dams Park fiasco.
• An Environmental Impact Statement will have to be done, and that will likely add another 1-2 years to the project’s timeline. I would expect City to play at Yankee Stadium for 3 seasons. Depending on how good the team is, they may be able to average a good crowd, but even a MLS-respectable 18,000 per game would look paltry in the oversized Yankee Stadium. This isn’t a huge problem, but it is for perception.
• Yankee Stadium hosts concerts, college football games, outdoor hockey games, and big-time soccer friendlies. Would they use a second stadium to the south of the baseball park as a secondary site for those kinds of events, or would the two compete with each other?
• According to the New York Times, the proposed area sits atop nine acres of land. For the sake of comparison, Red Bull Arena, a similar 25,000 seat arena to the NYCFC proposal, takes up 12.34 acres, not counting the infrastructure surrounding the arena. The Flushing Meadows proposal called for 13 acres of land.
• NYCFC would also have to speak with the community about shutting down the usage of 153rd street for building purposes and would need to either eliminate or redirect the entrance ramp off of 153rd.

Final Score:
Feasibility: 8
Transit Access: 9
Highway Access: 7.5
Location: 7
Overall: A-

See you in the Bronx.

    • Anonymous

      The ball fields and track are still there. We are talking about the elevator parts factory and the parking garage below, south of the park. If 50k can find their way to get into Yankee Stadium, surely 28k can get into the soccer stadium without much of a fuss. Unless there are those whose agenda is more interested in making a fuss.

  • Anthony

    I give it 20% chance of ever happening

  • Final Score:
    Feasibility: 8
    Transit Access: 9
    Highway Access: 7.5
    Location: 7
    Overall: A-

    See you in the Bronx. Oh no you won’t !

    I hope your not looking for credibility with those scores.

    • oh your scores grade out to a C+ if you really wanna know.

  • Sean

    The biggest problem NYCFC will face is playing at Yankee Stadium for one game as it’s one game too many. Few people will enjoy that. It’s a recipe for disaster and will dilute the excitement and relevance for the club.

    • erik

      I think don garner has done great things as commish, but I agree with Sean: launching in Yankee Stadium is a huge mistake. Not sure why he was in such a rush to get NY2 in without a stadium deal in place. Colossal error, IMO.

      • erik

        Garber … damn swype

  • Footy

    This can get done, and this is a good location for public transportation. In every stadium site there are going to be some hurdles to overcome but $ talks and Citeh and the Yankees have plenty of $.

  • George

    Call me when the Cosmos get in: http://i.imgur.com/I4Zwfs5.png

  • are my eyes deceiving me or does that map say “red bull arena” on the stadium?

  • ah, ok ignore me. I realize why it says that now.

  • GuyDudeBro

    we need to temper our enthusiasm with a sober understanding of how difficult this is going to be.

    Mansour’s involvement will be a problem with,…
    human rights groups
    gay groups
    women’s groups
    indian groups
    the peter king / sean hannity types
    israel activist groups

    the more money he spend to fight, the more visible he will become.

    His pile of trouble may be larger than his pile of money

    pump the brakes a bit

  • considering that the south bronx is mainly made up of Latinos from countries where soccer isn’t popular I sure hope nobody writes an article talking about the immigrant population loving the sport…. I do think the Bronx is the best location for NYCFC so that all 3 NY clubs can coexist and do relatively well. Hopefully it works out.

  • Matt Rasmussen

    After reading the NYT article, the biggest roadblock to this plan is buying out the elevator parts plant that employs 225 people. Not that I care, because I’ll still support NYRB regardless that I’m also a Yankees fan.

    BTW, Docta Stooge, the NYT article says the Yankees and NYCFC wouldn’t play the same day because everyone already knows that would never work.

    • John

      Within the next 12 to 24 months the former owners and all their junk yards will be gone in Willets point Queens. That area is know as the iron triangle right next to Citi Field. There will be 60 acres to develop in that area . I still think that when the smoke clears Nycfc soccer club will consider that area again . Remember their first choice was in that area Flushing Meadow Corona.

      • GreenJohnRey

        My take on this: No one in their right mind would invest in such a venture without government guarantees. The fan base?? Gimme a break! Without an international soccer super-star, this team and this project goes nowhere. I have a modest proposal, though: Get the team assembled first; then play a few exhibition games at Yankee Stadium. See what kind of a fan base the New York City Football Club could draw to the Bronx. Only then make a decision to build, or not to build. (Btw, even the naming of this club shows total marketing ineptitude. Would YOU invest in this?? If so, I have several bridges to sell you.)

        • GreenJohnRey

          Btw, Sean (quite aptly) wrote:

          The biggest problem NYCFC will face is playing at Yankee Stadium for one game as it’s one game too many. Few people will enjoy that. It’s a recipe for disaster…”

          So if you build it, they will come?

          Really?

          If Sean is correct, and I believe he is; if playing one game in Yankee Stadium is one game too many, then doesn’t that tell us quite clearly that “if you build it” in the Bronx, THEY WON’T COME!! I suggest that the team be renamed to the New York White Elephants, or maybe the Boogie-Down Boondoggle.

          • GreenJohnRey

            On the other hand, some people probably figure that with the ghost of dictator Bloomberg, and the ghost of power-broker Stanley Schlein on their side how can the backers of this project lose? (This venture DOES have the backing of the ghost of Bloomberg and the ghost of Schlein, does it not?)

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  • Luis

    It’s got to be in Queens… forget the Bronx.
    Queens has the most diverse soccer loving population anywhere in the USA, we all want a stadium at home… we all want a team we can call our own, and Queens is smack in the middle of NYC with easy access for residents from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island and even Bronx and Westchester.

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  • Queens seemed a no-brainer because it would have been successful in tapping Long Island’s youth soccer market, and the huge ethnic comminity in Queens. Islanders don’t go to Red Bull Arena because it’s too far away for a 2 hour match, and I’m not sure how a venue near Yankee Stadium would be any different, from that perspective.