New York City Football Club, the 20th Major League Soccer Franchise: A Significant Milestone

New York City Football Club

Hi guys,
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.

Sometimes I am glad to notice that as a Football Marketer, I am not far away from the truth. The last year, I had great discussions with some industry friends and business partners and we came to the conclusion that Manchester City will be the 20th New York franchise. I dug a bit and found out that the domain names New York City Football Club and NYCFC were owned by…….Major League Soccer.

The new team will be named New York City Football Club (NYCFC) and is expected to begin play in 2015.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said: “We proudly welcome two of the most prestigious professional global sports organizations to Major League Soccer. 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.”

Ferran Soriano, CEO of Manchester City said: “New York is a legendary sports town, as well as a thriving global city with a rapidly expanding soccer fan-base,”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.”

A partnership between a football club and a baseball club. What does that mean exactly? 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. The Yankees will be involved as a minority owner, but in reality they will have a much bigger role.

What are the costs?
It’s a move that heralds nearly $500 million in new investment into MLS — including a $100 million expansion fee and a $340 million stadium.

Where will NYCFC start off in 2015?
NYCFC should be hosted in the stadium MLS is planning to build in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, but it is due in 2015.

If we speculate on their playing location, we can think of Yankee Stadium, Metlife Stadium, but I seriously doubt it. Major League Soccer built 14 specific football stadiums, and I don’t believe their brand new franchise will be playing in a Baseball stadium.

Another option is the Red Bull Arena which will make it interesting in terms of rivalry. But is it feasible? On Twitter, Commissioner Garber won’t rule out Red Bull Arena as a venue, but says it’s just too early to speculate.

We should keep in mind that the new MLS stadium in Queens has received bad criticims from residents claiming that: “The proposal for a stadium inside the heart of flushing Meadows Corona Park is deeply flawed and would irrevocably damage a vital community resource“.

Will this move boost TV ratings?
TV ratings is crucial for any sport. Although football is growing in the U.S, TV ratings have stalled at 0.2/0.3 level. According to Sports Illustrated, it’s not a surprise that NYCFC will start play in 2015 which is the year of MLS new round of TV contracts.

MLS broadcasting deals with Univision, ESPN and NBC Sport run out at the end of 2014.

NYCFC already established as THE New York City football club?
I believe that neither New York Red Bulls nor New York Cosmos have managed to become THE undisputable New York football club fans associate themselves with.

So far, Manchester City has  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. [Sources: MLS, Sports Illustrated, Big Apple]

Exciting times ahead. I often point out that football is growing in North America and many elements prove that it is a sport that expands significantly. With New York City Football Club on board, it is a powerful milestone for MLS to capitalize on.

By the way, it’s New York City FOOTBALL Club, not New York City SOCCER Club……just sayin’!

Karl Lusbec