The New York Yankees are investing in an expansion Major League Soccer franchise and could host the team at Yankee Stadium while a new soccer-specific facility is planned.
The Yankees will own between 20 and 25 percent of New York City Football Club (putting up a chunk of the $100-million expansion fee), with Manchester City, owned by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, the majority owner. (Manchester City is not the same as the better-known Manchester United.) The team will begin play in 2015.
The issue: where the team will play. While it’s possible Yankee Stadium will host the team on an interim basis — the ballpark has successfully hosted friendlies in the past — a new soccer-specific stadium is definitely on the agenda. MLS has been working with the city on a plan for a soccer stadium next to Citi Field in Flushing Meadows, but the cooperation of the New York Mets would be needed for the plan to work: the soccer team would need access to parking lots controlled by the Mets. Whether the long-standing feud between the Mets and the Yankees could impede any deal remains to be seen. From AP:
MLS has been negotiating with New York City to build a stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, near the home of the Mets. The Mets had explored owning an MLS team before financial turmoil caused by the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.
“Flushing is still the preferred site,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said.
However, some community groups have opposed using city parkland. The new owners will consider other sites. “We need a community that supports us. We need a family that’s going to embrace us,” Manchester City Chief Executive Officer Ferran Soriano said. “So we’re going to continue this discussion. But the first thing we want to do is to listen, listen to the community, listen to everybody.”
You can assume the Yankees will involve its other companies to run the new soccer stadium. Very quietly the Yankees have put together a portfolio of companies — usually in the framework of a partnership — that supplement the baseball operations, like Legends Hospitality (co-owned with the Dallas Cowboys), Legends Sales and Marketing, CSL Marketing Group and now the MLS team.
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