Cable TV Magnate Rocco Commisso Takes Over NASL Franchise

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A cable TV magnate is now the majority owner and chairman of the New York Cosmos.

The team announced Tuesday that Rocco Commisso, CEO of Mediacom Communications Corp., the nation’s fifth largest cable television company, has purchased a majority stake in the North American Soccer League franchise.

“Like so many of our fantastic fans, I have followed the Cosmos since the fabulous days of Pelé, Chinaglia, Alberto, and Beckenbauer,” the Bronx native said in a news release. “With my deep roots in the New York City area as a former player, youth coach, and proud supporter of the Columbia University soccer program, I look forward to building on the rich history of America’s most iconic soccer club.”

Commisso, 67, immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was 12. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Columbia. He played for the Lions’ soccer team from 1967-70 and tried out for the U.S. national team before the 1972 Olympics.

“We’ve worked hard to secure a positive future for the club and Rocco is the perfect person to lead the continued renaissance,” Seamus O’Brien, outgoing chairman of the Cosmos’ ownership group, said in the news release. “He is not only extremely knowledgeable about the beautiful game as it is played worldwide, but brings extensive entrepreneurial experience in the media and communications business to the organization.”

The storied franchise was rebooted in 2013, but its future appeared to be in doubt following last season. The team, however, announced Saturday it will return to play in the NASL in 2017. The announcement came after the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors voted Friday to give the NASL provisional Division II status.

But there is still much uncertainty facing the franchise as it prepares to open the season in April.

The Cosmos, who have won three NASL championships in four years, will no longer play at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium and are looking for a new home. They have reportedly been negotiating to play at MCU Park on Coney Island, the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones Class A baseball team.

Also, not knowing if they would field a team, the Cosmos released all of their players after the season. Six players, including 2016 league MVP Juan Arango, have since signed with new clubs.