In an effort to alleviate a congested Major League Soccer schedule caused in part by the primary tenants at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York City Football Club will move four of their regular season home matches in 2020 to Citi Field in Queens, the club announced Tuesday.
Dubbed The Citi Field Series, the matches will be Sunday, April 26; Saturday, July 25; Saturday, August 8; Saturday, September 26 at the home of the New York Mets. The four matches were originally scheduled as mid-week affairs at Yankee Stadium, where New York City shares the facility with the New York Yankees.
Pro Soccer USA has learned that the entire MLS schedule will be released Thursday.
“We are committed to delivering the best fan experience to our dedicated and passionate supporters and we have heard from them that midweek games are less convenient than weekend matchups,” NYCFC CEO Brad Simms said in the club’s release. “Additionally, we believe that reducing the number of occasions where we play three games in eight days will be a great competitive benefit for our players. While Yankee Stadium remains our home, Citi Field has emerged as an incredible alternative venue for us and moving four dates from midweek to weekends is the best option for our fans and players alike.”
Sporting Director David Lee reinforced the importance of the adjustment for the sporting side of the club.
“Moving these fixtures to Citi Field will create a more balanced schedule which allows our team additional recovery time and preparation days ahead of key league matchups,” Lee said. “I know our players have greatly enjoyed the experience and atmosphere created by our fans at Citi Field in the past.”
NYCFC is winless in two matches at Citi Field, playing to a 2-2 draw versus Columbus Crew SC in the 2017 regular season finale and dropping a 2-1 decision to Toronto FC this year in the Eastern Conference semifinals October 23.
On both occasions, City was forced out of their Bronx home due to conflicts with the Yankees and now will have to address issues with both seating and an inconvenient entrance procedure at Citi Field.
“The lines were up all the way to the subway,” season ticket holder Jessica Bloom said after the TFC playoff match. “We encountered the line the moment we got out of the subway.”
Bloom said she would have missed the first 20 minutes if she had not signed up for CLEAR, the service that provides accelerated entrance into events.
“They were doing individual pat-downs and didn’t have enough people working,” Bloom said. “People were getting mad.”
In addition to the need for an expedited entrance method, the club suggested in its release they are working to ensure a better seating experience at Citi Field after receiving negative feedback about obscured views and the location of the supporter’s section at this year’s playoff match.