It was May 22, 2013, when Ferran Soriano, the chief executive officer of the Manchester City Football Club, said Man City’s new sister club, New York City FC, would have to play in a temporary home for “two or three years.”
More than four-and-a-half years after the expansion side kicked off, Yankee Stadium is still the temporary housing for Major League Soccer’s 2oth franchise.
But there may now be a glimmer of hope for NYCFC and its supporters.
Pro Soccer USA’s Glenn Crooks attended a recent public planning meeting in the South Bronx with a focus on the feasibility of a soccer-specific stadium just a few blocks from Yankee Stadium, at a location that would utilize the same subway stop.
In this episode of On Frame, Chris Campbell who broke the news of the meeting for NYCFC-centric website The Outfield, offers an explanation for the meeting.
“I think what that [meeting] demonstrated is the community board and leadership not only sponsored this to happen, but they did so with the direction of how does the stadium fit in here,” Campbell said. “So, I think it shows that they are very interested in bringing a stadium to the area otherwise they wouldn’t have this.”
On the panel of technical advisors at the meeting was Neil MacOmish of Scott BrownRigg, whose expertise lies with sports stadiums and civic architecture in his native United Kingdom. MacOmish thinks the prospects for a soccer stadium at 153rd Street and River Avenue are promising.
“Absolutley,” MacOmish said after the meeting. “I’ve seen it all over Europe, all over the world. The soccer stadium could be an enabler. It’s a really good idea born out of the community, and I think it would be a terrific thing for this community.”
Crooks also speaks with Dr. Rick Eckstein, PhD and professor of sociology at Villanova University and an expert in sports and society including stadium financing. He is the co-author of a book entitled, “Public Dollars, Private Stadium.”
Eckstein has closely monitored the development of the Philadelphia Union’s home, Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa., where he is a taxpayer.
“That stadium was part of a 450 million dollar development project,” Eckstein said. “Roughly 140 million was used to build the stadium and the other 300 million for development never came. It’s been 10 years. They had lovely pictures on their web site.”
There were graphs and examples for community growth and development at the public planning meeting in the South Bronx.
“There were a lot of different items that were discussed. A lot of it seemed to be activating the waterfront,” Campbell said. “That is, redeveloping the area there to be able to allow local residents the ability to get back to the Harlem River and enjoy the parks and other developments that are happening there.”
Eckstein is skeptical that the proposed New York City FC stadium will be any different.
“That’s exactly the terminology that was used in Chester,” Eckstein said. “They were going to activate the waterfront and turn it into a tourist attraction. Of course, that hasn’t come close to happening.”
“It’s just not going to materialize because it never has [across the country]. I guess sometime there will have to be a first ,but it just hasn’t happened yet.”