NEW YORK – And just like that, "NY2" is a reality.
After three years of discussions and negotiations, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber announced on Tuesday that English Premier League powerhouse Manchester City FC and Major League Baseball's legendary New York Yankees have teamed up to acquire MLS's 20th expansion club.
The new team will be named New York City Football Club (NYCFC) and is expected to begin play in 2015.
“We proudly welcome two of the most prestigious professional global sports organizations to Major League Soccer,” Garber said in a statement released by the league. “This is a transformational development that will elevate the league to new heights in this country. The New York area is home to more than 19 million people, and we look forward to an intense crosstown rivalry between New York City Football Club and the New York Red Bulls that will captivate this great city.”
“New York is a legendary sports town, as well as a thriving global city with a rapidly expanding soccer fan-base,” said Ferran Soriano, CEO of Manchester City. “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 organization and a winning team that will carry the New York City Football Club name with pride.”
L to R: New York Yankees President Randy Levine, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano.
Manchester City will be the majority owner, according to the league's announcement, while the Yankees will play an active role in the ownership group, with Yankees President Randy Levine playing point for the ballclub.
The Yankees and Manchester City already have an existing commercial relationship through Legends Hospitality, an international entertainment, hospitality and marketing organization, and Man City will play a friendly against fellow EPL giants Chelsea FC at Yankee Stadium this coming Saturday.
“We are pleased to be associated with this major move by MLS to increase its presence in the New York market and to enhance the opportunity for New York soccer fans to enjoy high-level play in their own city," said Hal Steinbrenner, managing general partner of the New York Yankees. "We look forward to the opportunity to work with Manchester City to create something very special for the soccer fans of New York -- and to bringing another terrific team to this city for all sports fans to enjoy."
In order to begin play in 2015, NYCFC will arrange for an interim venue but will also seek a permanent home in New York. The club says it will continue the discussions already under way with the City of New York, local residents, community and business leaders, and soccer leagues about a possible new stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park (FMCP) in Queens, while also continuing to look at other potential sites.
“New York City FC will have a permanent home in the City in the great traditions of New York sports and world soccer -- a home that must be a sports, commercial and civic success,” Soriano said. “But in considering any stadium site, we will listen first. This is what we have always done in Manchester and what we will do in New York. Only in this way, can the Club truly represent the City whose name it will carry.”
Manchester City has had connections to New York for years now. Its "City Soccer in the Community," a grassroots youth soccer program, has been up and running in New York since 2010 and is headquartered at PS 72 (Lexington Academy) in East Harlem, which now boasts a rooftop field funded by Manchester City. City Soccer in the Community "provides quality soccer instruction and programming to thousands of children in 20 NYC public schools each year," according to the club, who are expected to expand the program's reach throughout the five boroughs.
Through various community programs, Manchester City has funded the construction of soccer facilities for youth in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, as well as around the world.
But it's on the field in New York where NYCFC will have its biggest impact. The arrival of another club in the Big Apple establishes MLS's second local derby -- after the Los Angeles SuperClasico between the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA -- and given that this is New York, the rivalry between NYCFC and the Red Bulls is expected to be a heated one.
“Soccer is one of the world’s most exciting and popular sports, and it should be played on the world’s biggest stage -- in New York City,” New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement. “New Yorkers are the greatest sports fans in the world, and they will welcome a Major League Soccer franchise with the full-throated and loyal support they are famous for.”