NYCFC are terrible at home, terrible home to blame

As many of you are probably aware, I’m a strong proponent of finding ways to get use out of existing sports venues instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build new ones, mostly because they’re almost never worth it and so somebody (i.e., Mr. and Mrs. Q. Taxpayer) usually ends up having to foot the bill. I’m willing to admit, though, that NYCFC squeezing an MLS field into a baseball stadium may not have been the best idea of all time:

Unlike the NFL, where every field conforms to precise dimensions, a soccer pitch can vary within FIFA (and in this case, MLS) regulations. In the case of Yankee Stadium, that means a smaller field, which robs teams of their space to create — and the Stadium offers the smallest playing surface in the league. For a finesse club like NYCFC, that is the equivalent of the Yankees sending out a lineup devoid of lefty power to take advantage of the short right-field porch…

And at 110 yards by an MLS-minimum 70 yards, or a Hobbit-sized 7,700 square yards, the small field makes NYCFC easier to press and close down. The next-smallest fields are 8,250 square yards and eight are at least 9,000 square yards.

While all this is sad if you’re an NYCFC supporter and fairly entertaining if you’re not — they lost a game last year when an opposing player practically threw the ball into the goal from the sideline, which is hilarious — it’s important to note that this is no one’s fault but NYCFC’s own: They chose to place a team in New York with nowhere to play but New Yankee Stadium, and then chose to sign a bunch of finesse players with famous names who would be at a huge disadvantage playing on a small pitch. Talks about a new stadium in upper Manhattan have gone approximately nowhere, and there’s really no reason for the city to put itself out to solve a problem of the team’s own making, so NYCFC will likely just need to suck it up and rebuild its roster to play in cramped surroundings for the foreseeable future. To do otherwise would be like the Colorado Rockies demanding a pressurized dome to make up for the fact that they unexpectedly found the air thin in Denver — oh, crap, I’m giving people ideas again, aren’t I?


28 comments on “NYCFC are terrible at home, terrible home to blame

  1. The stadium and field size/orientation make for bad TV viewing too. By chance I saw the end of NYCFCs game on sunday. The camera angle was something akin to me putting my camera on a extendable fruit picker for my kids soccer games–very low with narrow field of vision. The field looked like a parallelogram. Had to make sure I had my right glasses on. Gave me a headache.

    NYCFC lost in stoppage time on a long cross from the near side that went beyond the goal. 2nd offensive player headed it back into the middle, where a third player headed it in before a fourth could bicycle kick it in. Amazing. But i wonder if a wider field would have affected the play. (shorter cross possibly).

    • The cameras are mounted for baseball viewing, so their all out of place. A stadium that has camera locations for gridiron football usually does well enough with association football that it’s not a big deal.

  2. Not to mention NYCFC having to fill in the infield with sod for every match, and that sod doesn’t have time to take root – as David Villa found out when he took a penalty kick that went high, wide and not very handsome. The chunk of sod that came out of his slipped plant foot was epic.

  3. Neil, what a great idea! Let’s see Denver is 12 pounds per square inch while sealevel is 14.7 psia. So that’s a 22% increase in air pressure.

    If we assume a Coors Field pressure dome would hold roughly 41 million cubic feet of air (same as the Astrodome did/does), that’s roughly only 9 million cubic feet of air that would need to be pumped in above normal air.

    The Metrodome’s 20 air pumps could output a combined 56,000 cubic meters per minute. That’s 1.9 million cubic feet per minute. So we just need 94 of those air blowers, assuming no leaks and you want to get the building over-pressured in a minute.

    Probably need airlocks for the people to enter, but those can also serve as security portals for scans and strip searches (when necessary). I estimate it should only take 5-6 hours for everyone to enter the improved Coors Field but it will even out the pitching issues and likely cause a few cases of the bends when leaving.

    What a great idea :)

    Andy

  4. The problem at Yankee Stadium is the Yankees’ refusal to allow the removal of the pitcher’s mound. On account of this, the soccer pitch has to be squeezed into a weird configuration that runs across the outfield, and has to be thin enough not to touch the pitcher’s mound.

    In soccer games played at Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium, the pitch was laid out in a more natural configuration, with one corner near home plate.

    Fenway Park
    http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/images/tickets/y2014/649x350_faf4.jpg

    Dodger Stadium
    http://losangeles.urbdezine.com/files/2013/10/Dodger-Stadium-soccer.jpg

    If the Yankees would allow this configuration at Yankee Stadium, then the space on the field could be used in a much more sensible fashion, and the soccer pitch could be much wider than 70 yards.

    • I was wondering about the pitchers mound when watching the game. At one point (due to the bad camera angle), I thought the mound was IN the field of play.

      I am not for building sport-specific stadiums at taxpayers expense, but the awful sight lines in multi-purpose venues make it tempting. I feel sorry for the team and fans. What torture it must be/have been to watch games at some of these places. At least oakland coliseum and old candlesitck had roll-out stands to bring fans closer to the action.

      Here’s a good shot of the painful reality at Yankee Stadium.
      http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03233/yankee5_3233448b.jpg. If I am not mistaken the main camera is sitting at the end of the 3rd bas dugout.

    • The Yankees spend at least $100m on pitching so it is definitely not in their interest to risk their investments on a new mound every other week.

      This result is from bad management. There doesn’t seem to be a single decision made by the Manchester City Group that concerns the New York club that doesn’t blow up in their face. It seems the MLS team is way down the priority list…and it shows.

  5. Back in the 60s we built round stadiums with hydraulic pitchers mounds that could be lowered for football conversion. We also wore onions on our belts, which was the style in them days.

  6. It is a hideous layout. Almost unwatchable on television both for camera angle and congestion (small pitch) reasons.

    The question is, is this something that the ownership group knowingly did so that they can then complain that the city’s stubborn refusal to give them even more land and more money is critically encumbering the new club?

    You can actually design a baseball stadium that works reasonably well for soccer too. But you need a very wide infield (think Oakland-Alameda coliseum but reconfigured more octagonally, like the the Phillies stadium infield seating) and a mound that can be lowered (as mentioned above). In other words, you have to plan for it in advance… something you’d think the Yankees might have done.

    While it would be nice if multipurpose stadia actually worked for all sports, the truth is they really don’t work well for anything but their primary tenant (if that). The moveable seating and other changes required also make them far more expensive than they need to be.

    When Toronto FC looked at making one end section of seats moveable to accommodate the other kind of football, the cost was estimated at $50m… for a stadium that, when originally built, cost just $65m.

    In certain cases, two stadia can be better (and possibly even cheaper) than one.

    Bring back that floating stadium plan… it can be docked more or less anywhere along Manhattan’s coast line and used for all kinds of things….

    • Not sure how the Yankees could have seen this coming considering planning for the stadium began 10 years before the football club even existed. Also, the dimensions of the field were made to be identical to Old Yankee Stadium. When the new stadium was being I don’t think anyone would have imagined a professional soccer team would be playing its games there.

      • I’m sure it could not have been considered during initial planning, but construction projects often (read: nearly always) are modified during the build based on changing requirements or site restrictions, for example.

        The Yankees certainly did know they might be holding college football games in the stadium, so slight modifications made to accommodate either kind of football would not be unthinkable.

        It is also the case that the European club “summer tours” of the US were happening during the planning stages of the build, something the Yankees have gotten in on in the past if I remember correctly.

        I agree that the Yankees didn’t “know” that they would be part owner of an MLS team when they began work on the new stadium. They certainly knew that other events (even soccer) would be held there from time to time, however.

        • Take a look at how they configure Yankee Stadium for American Football. The management take out the mound and run the goalposts between home plate and center field. Fine for football (Pin Stripe Bowl, Army/Fordham/Rutgers home games) they come AFTER the baseball season ends.

      • “Also, the dimensions of the field were made to be identical to Old Yankee Stadium.”

        No, they weren’t.

        Compare: http://www.andrewclem.com/Baseball/YankeeStadium_II.html

        • Take a look at the dimensions, THEY ARE the same. It is the design of the two stadiums, outside walls that seem different.

          However, take a look at your diagram and notice how the new Yankee Stadium looks when configured for college football (Pin Stripe Bowl, Army/Fordham/Rutgers home games). The management takes out the pitcher’s mound and the football field runs down the middle: http://www.andrewclem.com/Baseball/YankeeStadium_II.html#diag
          Shame they could not do that for soccer.

  7. NYCFC is the reason MLS no longer lets expansion teams start playing in the league without an approved stadium plan, either a dedicated soccer-specific stadium or an NFL stadium if an NFL ownership group also owns the soccer team.

      • And since the owners were from Abu Dhabi aka the same group that owns Man City, they thought it would be easy to build a new stadium in New York. Money was not supposed to be an issue. I guess something has changed…

  8. True true true..but every game that has a loser also has a winner, and the winner should be NYCFC regardless of the state of the pitch. NO EXCUSES for a win becoming a tie in the last 15 seconds. NO EXCUSES for slipping on a penalty kick, NO EXCUSES for losing 0-7 against the home town rival. We can’t replace the field right now, but we can replace the team….every last one of them who does not step up the game right now. THIS IS NEW YORK CITY! We should have the greatest team in the world one day…and another thing…losing does not help your chances for a new stadium!!!!!!!

    • “losing does not help your chances for a new stadium!!!!!!!”

      Spectacularly untrue, but I’m assuming you already knew that before you hit the “Post Comment” button.

      And at any rate, the CFG doesn’t care remotely enough about their outlet in New York to develop them into this so-called greatest team in the world. Otherwise, they wouldn’t think it’s a sound idea to leave them in a stadium that’s horrifically ill-suited for soccer for years on end.

    • Ra ra ism aside, New York’s sports teams are generally not particularly good – http://www.cleveland.com/datacentral/index.ssf/2014/02/ranking_us_cities_for_pro_spor.html

  9. The problem with MLS Soccer in NYC is the interest level of average New Yorkers falls somewhere between Hofstra Hoops and Football ( 3 days after the football program was shut down and no one cared). There is a reason why the most difficult situations for teams getting New Stadiums are in New York, Massachusetts and Oakland ( I bet even Tampa Bay is closer). Which are these teams are not only bad but fall far below the Yankees, Red Sox and Giants in popularity ( and always will). If NYCFC decided to move or even shut down operations on a Friday, no one is talking about it on Monday.

    • In Boston, the Revs are popular, but by choice they play their home games in Gillette Stadium, which is perhaps the worst-located stadium in America (far from city center, no public transport, miserable traffic). This definitely limits their reach to younger fans.

      Every once in a while the Kraft family kicks around the idea of someone building them a soccer stadium in Boston or along a subway line. However, this runs into Boston’s main problems for sports stadiums–1) land is too expensive to be given away and 2) it is hard (and expensive) to build big things in Boston.

      • Exactly right. Money isn’t an issue for NYCFC owners. But they would like someone else to pay for it for them, or at least as much of the project as they can get. Even if the contribution was land only, in Manhattan it could run into hundreds of millions I would think. And the Yankees already have absorbed most of the available parkland for their purposes (excepting, you know, Central Park…)

        If they had been quicker off the mark, maybe the owners could have convinced the Jets to share a 40,000 seat floating stadium somewhere… but that ship has sailed (pardon the pun).

      • GDub,

        1. The Revs are not very popular in Boston. They are a distant 5th in Boston, behind the Red Sox, Pats, Bruins, and Celtics – all teams that have existed for at least 50 years and have won a title within the last 10(?) years while my Revs are in year 21 and have lost all 5 of their finals appearances. While an MLS title would help their popularity, they’d still be 5th in Boston, and the loss of Jermaine Jones has hurt both on and off the pitch.

        2. I think you meant to say that Gillette is in the perfect location for Pats’ games, but the worst spot for the Revs. Agreed.

        3. Sadly, I agree that the Revs may never get their own home, but it’s because of Kraft and not the market or the politics or the economy. He already owns their current stadium and there’s no way building a new place with any of his own money is going to be a better economic decision than continuing to use Gillette. I don’t blame him for that decision, it just stinks for us fans.

        • 1. I think for an MLS team the Revs are popular–even if the Celtics are the 4th team in Boston they’re still doing pretty well. They do fine on the weekends and below average for the weeknights–but because they play in a huge stadium far from the city it doesn’t seem that way. I agree that the Boston sports media is a bunch of old dudes who are about 20 years behind the times on sports trends.

          2. Gillette is a terribly placed stadium for all sports, including the NFL. Its also a crappy mall. A stadium built today that would condemn fans to 3-4 hours of sitting in traffic with no real public transport option would be an interesting sell to the public, even as a “privately funded” option.

          3. I agree they have a swell deal playing in their own park, but Jonathan Kraft seems a bit more progressive and has to be looking at Portland and Seattle and asking “why aren’t we like that?” Don’t see the “Kraft Family” springing for the real estate necessary to move Boston forward on a soccer stadium.

          Anyway–my point is that these MLS teams that complain likely have other options, but choose not to use them for a variety of reasons. That’s not the public’s fault.

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