NYCFC exec: New stadium should be done sometime between 2026 and never

It’s time again to check in on the NYC F.C. stadium plans, which have been stuck in “talk optimistically without any actual details” mode for, oh jeez, almost three years now. Team CEO Brad Sims posted a Q&A with himself on his team’s own website last week, and one of the Qs by the not-at-all-straw-man-questioner was “We really need our own Stadium – what’s the latest?” Sims’ answer was a masterpiece of PR-speak (translations below):

As we have always said about our Stadium project, we must ensure support from our community boards, community leaders, and local elected officials – and working with them to ensure that the project aligns with their goals and expectations is priority one.

Translation: We need city government to do a bunch of things for us, including closing streets, tearing down a highway ramp, and evicting the parking garage owners who our partners the Yankees brought in to help get their own stadium built 12 years ago. And that could take a while.

COVID did slow down the work to secure land, but that process has picked up significantly. More steps to go, but it is moving again in the right direction.

Translation: We’ve made no progress over the past year, but will soon. We hope. Maybe.

Things like land assembly and public approval process are far more complicated in NYC than any other MLS Club has ever had to deal with.

Translation: Durn people!

From the time we enter the public approval process, we are plus or minus four years out from that point to Stadium opening, if everything goes as we hope.

Translation: The city land use approval process takes about a year, and then it’ll take maybe three years to tear down all the garages and highway ramps and build a soccer stadium. Also, “plus or minus,” because that’s the kind of thing that sounds professional, and it definitely means “about,” not that we’re hoping to start building by time-traveling into the past, because that always works out poorly.

Q: How do I get tickets for the home opener on April 24th at Yankee Stadium?

Translation: Moving on!

Let’s not be too hard on Sims: He has to say something about his team’s stadium plans, and if you can’t say something concrete, say something blandly optimistic. Still, there’s zero evidence that the team’s convoluted financing and land proposal is any closer to reaching fruition than it was when it was first leaked in 2018. Of course, it’s possible things are going on behind the scenes — there’s a long tradition of that in The Bronx — but for now, alarm and/or hope should probably be down somewhere around DEFCON 4. That’s bad news if you’re an NYC F.C. fan mostly concerned about not having to watch home games at your rival’s stadium, but potentially good news if you’re a New York City resident mostly concerned about not wanting to see your tax dollars and public land going toward building a new home for a team co-owned by two of the wealthiest sports businesses on the planet. If you’re both of those things at once, well, fight it out amongst yourself.

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12 comments on “NYCFC exec: New stadium should be done sometime between 2026 and never

  1. They have to keep pretending to do something – their fanbase is kind of irritated that half of City’s home schedule in 2021 is being played at Red Bull Arena due to scheduling conflicts with the Yankees (and the new Mets’ ownership apparently deciding that letting a soccer team tear up Citi Field isn’t worth the rent money).

    At some point, someone at NYCFC is going to have to make an actual decision.

    Not anytime soon, of course…

    1. Having MLS games at a baseball stadium does not “tear up” the field. Yankee Stadium’s field has seen absolutlely no ill effects from NYCFC playing there.

      That doesn’t mean that the Yankees aren’t acting like jerks, though. The team refuses to remove the pitcher’s mound for the NYCFC games, as it did for the Chelsea – Man City game that took place before NYCFC came into being, and as it does for the annual Pinstripe Bowl college football game.

  2. NYCFC is in the same boat as a lot of other teams or colleges: except for those stadiums and arenas already under construction, nothing will be happening for awhile. The Islanders, Kracken, Cincinnati soccer, Columbus soccer and UAB open this year, University of Texas Arena, San Diego State Aztecs and Tennessee soccer next year, but that will be it for nine figure ( or more) facilities for awhile. Why? The people in charge know there is no stomach for taxpayers to fund them, so they better pay them themselves ( including transportation streets etc) or forget it.

    1. I hope you are right David. However, for the majority of taxpayers there has never been appetite for public funding of professional sports stadia. Time and again when true public consultations have been held the majority of citizens (sometimes an overwhelming majority) speak or vote against the project.

      And then it is approved and funded by the government in charge anyway.

      1. There are a lot of reasons why I think this will happen. But here are three 1: The virus and its after effects. 2: Politicians from the left and the right no longer want to bail out millionaires and billionaires ( although for different reasons). 3: The power of sports leagues and ( especially) the NCAA is less then before. They have aggrieved fans on the right and the left alike: I can tell you as a Penn State fan the very reason why they brought Sandy Berger ( she of the Cal Stadium fiasco) was to get funding for a Beaver Stadium renovation and they are not projecting this to happen until 2026 at the earliest. I do think some projects like the Clippers will happen ( especially because of a future Olympics in LA), but the majority like a Washington football stadium are not happening for a long time.

    2. Land in NY is expensive, and no objective person thinks dedicating valuable land for 20 soccer games and 300+ days of it just being a large empty building is best for the city. NYCFC doesn’t want to play in a suburb where land is cheaper, and it can’t admit that just sharing a stadium with the other soccer team as opposed to sharing with the Yankees is the sensible thing to do.

      1. There would be a lot more than 20 events per year in that building. Concerts, college football, lacrosse, rugby, etc.

        1. NYC already has a glut of 20,000-seat indoor arenas, so concerts at an outdoor soccer stadium will be a hard sell to promoters since there’sd a risk of rain. There is effectively no college football in NYC, and what there is can be played in the baseball stadiums. Lacrosse and rugby are way too small-time to use an MLS stadium.

          I can’t immediately find a schedule of events at Red Bull Arena pre-Covid, but I would be stunned if it was more than 40 days a year.

          1. With Sky Blue moving in full time starting this year Red Bull Arena will easily be at like 45 events a year post pandemic.

            No where to go but up!

    3. It would be nice to think that the extremely wealthy people who own NYCFC could fund their own park, just as the baseball Giants did.

      However, the best place to build in New York City is already entwined with two levels of government. The Sunnyside Yards is owned partly by the MTA (a New York State authority) and partly by Amtrak (a Federal government-owned corporation). (And I think partly by GM, but I am not sure about that.) So the dream of building there would have to involve a great deal of cooperation by those levels of government.

      Covering that train yard would create new land for a stadium that would displace no residents or businessess. Also, a stadium there would attract more visits to nearby Sunnyside’s many taverns, and would promote the construction of new bars and restaurants to add to the local tax base, thereby boosting the area’s economy (keeping in mind the famous deMausian replacement effect that dilutes the this economic boost when it is considered over the broad landscape of the entire City).

      On the subject of taxes, let us note that Sunnyside Yards is close to the area that was nearly subject to one of the biggest tax ripoffs in history, until a heroic Congressmember led a revolt against that absurd Cuomo-led plan. A tax-revenue-generating stadium on the proposed site of a massive giveaway of tax money would be poetic justice.

      That area is as transit-rich, and is even more easily accessible by transit than Yankee Stadium is. (And transit access is a key condition in for suitable location for an NYCFC stadium.) So the games and other events at that imagined stadium would not add much auto traffic, as NYCFC, like the Nets, would surely advise people to come by subway, not by car.

      Finally, the cultural impact of a soccer stadium in that area could be enormous, as we’d likely see the emergence of a festive Seattle-style “march to the match” that would drastically improve the feel of the local streets.

      Alas, as with most good things, a Sunnyside Yards stadium for NYCFC has a very slim chance of actually occurring. But it’s a nice dream.

  3. Here I thought NYCFC and the 2026 World Cup were going to be held at West End Stadium.

    Whoa! I really need to stop that time traveling thing. It’s that or cut back on the caffeine.

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