NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When international soccer has been staged at Yankee Stadium, it has been a success. Now it’s time to try something more on a full-time basis.
New York City FC, which will begin MLS play in spring of 2015, announced Monday that it will call the big ballpark in the Bronx home during its inaugural season, playing 17 games.
“We couldn’t be happier about it,” NYCFC chief business officer Tim Pernetti said during a press conference at Yankee Stadium. “It is the most accessible venue in the market. I think our fans will have a variety of ways of getting here to see the quality of soccer that I think is going to be really high-level, exciting and fun. We’re going to create a tremendous experience at Yankee Stadium. Plus, This is the first MLS season that will be played in New York City. What better place to do that than Yankee Stadium? No better place.”
Over the last few years Yankee Stadium has hosted some of the best teams in the world, including Manchester City, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea and PSG. The iconic stadium will host a Guinness International Champions Cup match on July 30 between English Premier League rivals Manchester City and Liverpool FC.
NYCFC expects to reduce the stadium’s capacity from 49,642 to 33,444, which will still leave it with the second-largest capacity for regular season soccer matches in MLS behind CenturyLink Field in Seattle, which holds 38,500.
As for how long the relationship between NYCFC and Yankee Stadium will last, Pernetti said the club plans to build its own stadium somewhere within the five boroughs of New York, but as of now no deal is close to being completed. Pernetti also refuted a report that said Yankee Stadium would be NYCFC’s home for the club’s first three seasons.
“We’re not going to put a timeline on it,” Pernetti said.
While the search continues for a permanent home, the Yankee Stadium field will be configured in a way that allows for a 110-yard by 70-yard wide pitch. Yankees President Randy Levine said there should be no concerns about scheduling conflicts or field conditions transitioning back and forth between baseball and soccer.
“We have the best grounds crew in the world. The best stadium operations crew in the world. This will be no different,” Levine said.
“By hosting the NYCFC for its inaugural season, Yankee Stadium will be hosting a very special chapter in sports history. The Yankees are pleased to welcome NYCFC, all of its players and its fans, to our home, and believe the team’s dynamic presence in 2015 will make the Stadium the most vibrant venue in the world,” Levine added.
Just adding further to the pinstriped flavor of Monday’s announcement, NYCFC revealed that legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is the club’s first season ticket holder — appropriately given account No. 42.
Yankee Stadium has proven to be among the world’s most versatile venues, hosting everything from concerts to outdoor NHL hockey to MLS soccer — and that’s when it isn’t acting as the home of the 27-time World Series champions. NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis said he welcomes what the future holds.
“It’s incredibly exciting to think about launching our team’s first season at Yankee Stadium,” Kreis said. “Having experienced the powerful impact that a stadium and its atmosphere can have on a team, I can only imagine the excitement and energy that playing in a legendary venue like Yankee Stadium will bring to our club.”
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