Yankees believe Stadium can house NYCFC; MLB not so sure

IMAGE, DAVE MARTINEZ, EMPIRE OF SOCCER

IMAGE, DAVE MARTINEZ, EMPIRE OF SOCCER

It has been long assumed that New York City FC would start their inaugural season playing within the confines of Yankee Stadium. However, the team remains quiet over the site of their temporary home with just over a year until their debut.

Various sources tell EOS that Yankee Stadium is still the front runner to host NYCFC in 2015. However, concerns from Major League Baseball have become a constant road block in those discussions. MLB fears that the playing surface would be damaged from constant usage, leading to player injuries and disruption in play as was experienced in the 70’s when the Cosmos called Yankee Stadium home.

Yankee’s Executive Director of Non-Baseball events, Mark Holtzman, fell short of confirming Yankee Stadium as the team’s eventual home, only offering that an announcement would be made “soon.” However, he strongly defended the Stadium’s capacity to host continuous soccer matches if that happened to be the case.

“I don’t think we would have gotten into this relationship (if we had a problem),” Holtzman said. “The Yankees do nothing until it is thought out and planned out. We realized what we were getting into. Since this new stadium has been built, look at everything that we have done here? We just had the NHL. We have concerts. We are doing a lot of things we didn’t do in the old stadium.

“I think everyone up to the top of the organization understands very well what we were getting into when we made the relationship with Man City. It is a lot more than just the team here in the States. It is a worldwide branding partnership where we can really both benefit from each others brand.”

Safety, he expresses, would not be a concern either. “Baseball is clearly the number one priority,” he says. “We wouldn’t do anything to put anyone in any risk. It’s a major investment here in the players. At the end of the day, we look at these opportunities very careful and we wouldn’t get into these opportunities unless we were very comfortable about the end result.”

Unlike the days of the Cosmos, modern technology has changed the way a baseball stadium can accommodate separate sporting franchises. Holtzman points to advancements in field care that would help ease the day-to-day usage of the grounds in a way that would not impede the course of either game, while protecting the health of its participants.

“Technology has changed a lot in the last 10-15 years,” he says. “We are able to turn things over a lot faster than back then.” Recent experiences outside of the realm of baseball, he argues, have only bolstered the stadium crew’s ability to present a playable surface in short time.

“We are looking at a number of options vis-à-vis the mound. We have an operations crew here, second to none. It’s amazing what they have done with concerts and soccer and hockey and everything that we have done in a short period of time. I have all the confidence in the world in [Vice President of Stadium Operations] Doug Behar and his crew that whatever situation we present to them, they are going to be able to do.”

When asked about resistance from Major League Baseball, Holtzman said, “I am really not in the position to comment about that.” However, he did offer that “everyone will be pleased when they see the end result” of the temporary stadium solution.

“The start of the season, 2015, is a year away,” he acknowledges. “We have to sell tickets. There is a lot that has to be done, so clearly there has to be some sort of an announcement soon, I just can’t get into any more specifics at this point.”

16 Comments

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  2. Bill

    02/21/2014 at 7:53 pm

    “It is a lot more than just the (MLS) team here in the States. It is a worldwide branding partnership where we can really both benefit from each others brand.”

    “Baseball is clearly the number one priority.”

  3. Anonymous

    02/21/2014 at 8:04 pm

    Yankee Stadium will be surely the NYCFC temporary stadium for 3 seasons ( 2015-16-17 ) !!!!

    • Dave Martinez

      02/21/2014 at 11:08 pm

      Judging from Holtzman’s comments, this looks like it will be the case. MLB won’t be too happy about it though.

  4. Simon_M

    02/21/2014 at 11:18 pm

    Who didn’t see this coming ? Raise your hands…….

  5. Bill Reese

    02/22/2014 at 9:04 am

    Didn’t the Nationals and DC United share RFK stadium from 2005-07? I don’t remember hearing complaints back then.

    • Marcus Pearl

      02/22/2014 at 7:13 pm

      RFK Stadium was built as a multi-purpose facility which could handle baseball, football and soccer while Yankee Stadium was meant to be baseball-only.

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  8. Joosetiger

    02/24/2014 at 8:39 pm

    Why don’t they explore the simple but 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.

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