Manchester City, Yanks to team up on NY MLS franchise

Joe Girardi and the super early Manager of the Year race
Kelley & Claiborne step up, solidify middle relief

For much of the spring, a groundswell of institutional support for a New York City-based Major League Soccer franchise has been growing. The primary owners were set to be Manchester City Football Club, and the team, owned by a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, has had their eye on a piece of Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Now, the Yankees are involved as well, as a part-owners and powerful players on the New York City political scene, as they are joining with Manchester City to own part of MLS’ 20th franchise.

The Yankees will own approximately a quarter of the new soccer club, and as long as a stadium can be identified in time, the team will likely begin play during the 2015 MLS season. “We proudly welcome two of the most prestigious professional global sports organizations to Major League Soccer,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “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.”

For the Yankees and Manchester City, theirs is a marriage of political expediency as much as it is about economics. Soccer franchise ownership is hardly a high-reward investment, but the Yankees, through Legends Hospitality, already work with Manchester City. More importantly, though, the Yankees have deep-seated connections to the upper echelons of New York politics. Randy Levine and Lonn Trost will likely put their heads to see a stadium deal through during the final months of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s term.

In fact, Yankees’ owner Hal Steinbrenner appointed Levine as his soccer guru in a statement this morning. “We are pleased to be associated with this major move by MLS to increase its presence in the New York market and to enhance the opportunity for New York soccer fans to enjoy high-level play in their own city. We look forward to the opportunity to work with Manchester City to create something very special for the soccer fans of New York — and to bringing another terrific team to this city for all sports fans to enjoy,” said Hal Steinbrenner, managing general partner of the New York Yankees. “Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees, will be the point person in leading the effort to launch and establish the team on behalf of the organization.”

The real elephant in the room here though is the park land grab. New York City park advocates have been dismayed that MLS’ attention has turned to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Already the subject of a planned expansion by the U.S. Open, this park area serves as a gathering point for many Queens communities, and plopping down a soccer stadium in the park would further limit scarce green space. The city has offered up land that’s a several miles and neighborhoods away, but the site pales in comparison with the current green expanse.

While MLS and Manchester City hope the Yanks’ involvement can push this project through to the finish line, parks advocates believe the team’s eventual lobbying efforts may serve as a wake-up call. “We hope this new deal once and for all puts to rest any further attempts to seize even more public parkland in Flushing Meadows Park,” Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said to The Times. “The Yankees were given enough.”

No matter the outcome of the stadium debate, the Yanks are poised to delve deeper into the New York City sports landscape, and it seems likely that Yankee Stadium will host a soccer team for at least its first season of existence. I wonder what the Boss would say if he were still alive.

Joe Girardi and the super early Manager of the Year race
Kelley & Claiborne step up, solidify middle relief
  • Bavarian Yankee

    Manchester Shitty? Ew gawds, I hope this team will never win a single game. Why are the Yanks involved there anyway?

    • Wolfgang’s Fault

      Keep MLS out of Flushing Meadow Park. Once again, Randy Levine and Lonn Trost on the case to sell out the best interests of the people of NY. Total land grab here — don’t let them get away with it!!!

  • Pseudoyanks

    In other news, The Yankees have signed David Bekham to platoon with Ichiro Suzuki in RF.

    • MannyGeee

      Obligatory “Too young to play for the Yankees” comment here.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I loved Seth Meyers line about Beckham now getting to go home and bend it from SNL this weekend, FWIW.

  • Nick

    Didn’t the Yankees have a commercial tie-up of some sort with Manchester United a few years ago? Wonder what happened to that.

    Man City are a big and wealthy club but, as people with knowledge of English football might agree, their house is built on sand to some extent. They are solely funded by Sheikh Mansour and some of the none-football staff at the club are fairly new to sports management. I really hope it works out (without too many planning issues) but maybe something to be aware of.

    • Leg-End

      Financial Fair Play is trying to be enforced, this could possibly be used as a roundabout way to keep funding Manchester City with mega money whilst maintaining the books to stay within the FFB rules. My first instinct tells me this is what its all about for City, just a way for them to continue spending ludicrous amounts of money on players.

    • Thomas

      Yeah, they used to be partnered with ManU. Yankees have also partnered with Arsenal before too. The Yanks are just going for the best deal (nothing wrong with that).

    • And in merrie olde England

      I first got an interest in the Yankees off the back of that deal, had been watching some UK coverage for a couple of years then my team to follow was picked for me by my winter team.

  • Adam Shprintzen

    Anything that keeps Randy Levine away from baseball operations is ok in my book.

    • Jake


    • RetroRob

      Because he’s been such a failure at being president of the greatest baseball franchise in the world?

      • Robinson Tilapia

        No. For those weird pubes on his head.

    • Wolfgang’s Fault

      Sorry, but the people of Flushing, Queens, & by extension, all New Yorkers, need the park to remain what it is, a PUBLIC PARK! Randy Levine needs to take a hike.

  • Leg-End

    A little bit of my soul died readin this news.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Fine by me. They’ll have a built-in rival with the Red Bulls, and maybe I’ll even pay attention a bit more to non-WC soccer.

  • Rafael

    Manchester city IS NOT a big team. They are a small team with a lot of money (of doubtful origin) now, but this money isn’t well spent. They miles and miles behind Man U, for example.

    • Kramerica Industries

      They are trying to be a big team. They won the EPL last season. Over the past 10 years, they (along with Chelsea) have spent a couple hundred million more pounds than the purported money whores of Manchester (gee, the irony).

      The fact that they have crashed out in the group stages of the past two UCL campaigns is something of amusement to me. I hope it happens again this upcoming season.

  • TomH

    Soccer. Ecccchh.

  • Matt :: Sec110

    Where will they play? They are saying maybe, while the stadium is being built, playing a Yankee Stadium. I do not want that at all. 1, 2 games a year, ok…but the MLS season basically runs the same time as baseball, so that would probably do wonders on the field.

  • gageagainstthemachine

    As a lifelong Manchester United fan and a lifelong New York Yankees fan….this absolutely kills me!! I can’t stand Manchester City. Ugh!

    • Steve (different one)

      I mean, I get what you are saying, but the team they are partnering on is in MLS. It has nothing to so with either MLB or the EPL. The Yankees went in on a venture with the hated Cowboys a few years ago and it wasn’t a big deal.

      • gageagainstthemachine

        It’s a matter of principle :)

        • And in merrie olde England

          I had a great conversation with a Salford born Manc who was over from Boston to watch the Pat’s game over Halloween. He was laughing at me for supporting the Yanks, I pointed out which football team John Henry owned and kinda glad I’ll not see him again to talk more on the subject!

  • Steve (different one)

    Will they still revive the Cosmos aesthetic as was rumored a few years back for the MLS Queens team? That would be awesome.

    In other news, the Yankees have transferred the contract of 3B/right midfielder Alex Rodriguez to the new MLS roster and therefore out of the MLB luxury tax.

    • Kramerica Industries

      I am relatively certain that NYCFC will wear sky blue shirts, since that’s what Manchester City wears.

      • Steve (different one)

        My bad, I didn’t read the article closely enough, didn’t see the team already had a name

        • Kramerica Industries

          Generic European title, yeah.

  • jsbrendog

    so psyched. finally a team actually in NEW YORK. no longer having to take the shitty path to Harrison is reward in and of itself. I am totally getting season tickets.

    • Vinnie from Harrison


  • Starks

    WOWW!!!! Very excited to hear this, I am huge soccer fan, and big MLS fan, yes I know the League is still not up to par with the EPL, La Liga, Seria A, even Leagu 1 in France but to our credit, MLS has grown tremendously in a short amount of time. This in my mind will only help and bring some great talent to our country and our league will continue to improve technically which means more money from tv contracts with higher ratings. I am a huge Red Bull fan but I gotta say I think I just found my new favorite team with the Yankees owning part of the team. I am so excited!!!!!! Cant wait! Big Kudos to Don Garber who has done a tremendous job as commissioner of the league and I am looking forward to the next 20 years or so watching this wonderful little league of ours grow and become one of the top 5 leagues in the world. Make no mistake about it, its only a matter of time.

    • Bavarian Yankee

      top 5 league in the world in 20 years? I hope you have the time to wait 2000 years. Being outside of Europe will always be a disadvantage the MLS won’t overcome.

      • Starks

        lol are you joking? Listen homie leave it to someone who follows all sports in great detail. There was a recent survey, study completed, I forgot by who but will have to look it up and I will send you the link. They ranked the Top Soccer leagues in the World, taking into consideration the following:

        Stadiums, Attendance, quality of play, sales, merchanidise etc etc….and also financial structure, guess where MLS ranked, and keep in mind the league started in 1996. Guess where? SEVEN, YES 7th out of all of the leagues in this world.

        Right now clearly we have the EPL, La Liga, Ligue 1, Seria A, Mexican Clossura, Everdise (Holland), Bundesliga ahead of MLS in terms of quality on the pich but have you seen what has been happening to La Liga, and Seria A and most of the leagues in Europe? They are almost ALL BANKRUPT. The nly leagues thriving is the German Bundesliga and the EPL and the Bundesliga is about to take over as the top league in the world with two german club teams in the Champions League final and they have a very similar financial structure as MLS. So with that said, MLS will sreuly be in the top 5 leagues in the world in 15 years MAX, maybe sooner.

        Not being located in Europe is not a disadvantage the way the sports market globally is shifting. The new soccer hotbed is certainly the US and smart business people like the Yankees brass and Man City’s brass know this all to well. Plus make no mistake about it, having a team in NYC will do wonders to MLS. Just like any professional sports league, you need a good team within the heart of the biggest city in your country and this will give them an opportunity.

        • Bavarian Yankee

          ” Listen homie leave it to someone who follows all sports in great detail.”

          listen “homie”, you know nothing. Nothing at all. Believe me, I know more about football than you ever will. I’m a Bayern Munich season ticket holder for almost 20 years and I’ve played as high as the 3rd division in Germany and 2nd division in the Netherlands when I was an active player. After that I worked in the football business for a while in several countries and even today my company works with professional German football clubs every now and then. I know a lot about this business, more than you can dream about.

          European leagues aren’t bankrupt at all, that are just a few teams that overspent and have massive debts. That’ll change soon enough when the financial fairplay works like it’s supposed to. Then: where’s the MLS ranked? 7th? In front of the Russian, Ukrainian, Portuguese and Turkish leagues? In front of the 2nd divisions of England, Germany, France, Spain and Italy? The MLS isn’t even better than the Korean, Chinese or Japanese league. Don’t get me wrong but tell some people that have some knowledge of football that the MLS is ranked 7th and they’ll have a good laugh for some weeks.

          the Bundesliga will never overtake the EPL, at least not in the next 20 years. Plus, the Dutch league is called Eredivisie and the Mexican league is called Clausura.

          Send me this link and then I’ll send you a link from a serious website that hasn’t even listed the MLS in their top 30.

          btw: “The new soccer hotbed is certainly the US and smart business people like the Yankees brass and Man City’s brass know this all to well.”

          that’s when I was sure that you’re a troll that knows nothing about football. Nobody outside of the US cares about the MLS. That’s like saying German’s baseball league will be the #1 league in 15 years.

  • CONservative governMENt

    Huge United fan but excited the Yankees are getting involved as I need a gateway to MLS. I now live an hour north of LA but the Galaxy never did it for me. Hopefully they have a nice kit.

  • sjferrari

    I’ve been covering the MLS to Queens story for the better part of the last year, and for every supporter they throw out, there are as many people who oppose the idea of putting a soccer stadium in the middle of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

    Today’s news has given a lot of people hope that MLS is going to try and find a new site for the stadium, but it just seems like it’s a smokescreen.

    Here’s hoping something positive comes of this.

    • thenamestsam

      I’m curious if you know whether any alternate sites have been suggested.

      • sjferrari

        Up until the press release today, MLS has had a staunch “Flushing Meadows Corona Park is the only site” stance. Some other locations in Queens have been suggested – areas in College Point and by the new casino in Southeast Queens – but nothing was ever taken seriously.

        • thenamestsam

          Huh, thanks for sharing. Seems to me that the critical point is subway access. I really do think there is hunger in the NYC area for a local soccer team so support, but that the PATH has basically been a deal breaker for the Red Bulls.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Aqueduct seems far-fetched to me, unless it’s on the same land.

  • chris

    How about the Yankees focus on the terrible pitching depth in the minors and a little less on soccer.

    • pat


    • Steve (different one)

      The Yankees keep bringing pitchers up from AAA and they keep having great pitching. Isn’t that what “depth” means?

      Not to give credence to your absurd claim that the team can’t do two things at once….pretty sure they have partnered with the Devils, Nets, Cowboys, ManU over the last 10 years without incident….

    • Robinson Tilapia

      A random non-descript male first name has something dumb to say? I’m shocked.

  • Kramerica Industries

    To conflict me between the Yankees partnership (yay) and Manchester City ownership (boo) really annoys me.

    Man City can blow me.

  • DSFC


    On the other hand, if the wretched game of soccer keeps Randy Levine preoccupied, it will finally serve a purpose as something other than a sleep aid.

  • Bo Knows

    I bet The Boss is somewhere screaming now “Get David Beckam, Sign Ronaldo, get Pele dammit, I don’t care if he’s old, Bring me Yaya f#$%in Toure”

    With that said, hopefully this also has an added bonus of keeping Levine the hell away from baseball decisions. He’s good at his job handling the seedier stuff of the enterprise (let’s face it if your able to handle politics your at least a little dirty)

  • David Brown

    I cannot imagine the Mets being elated at the prospect of anything Yankee owned next to Citi Field? I also think it is possible that MLS knows that Flushing Meadow Park will not happen ( the City even had difficulty with getting the Tennis Center Expansion). There are four logical locations. 1: Belmont Park. 2: The Bronx ( say between Yankee Stadium and the new Kingsbridge Armory Ice Skating Facility. 3: Staten Island. 4: Atlantic Yards. I have no idea where it will be, but my gut says The Bronx. It is also interesting that on the same day this was announced, there is some movement on the future of Madison Square Garden, and a possible compromise. I suspect we will hear something more concrete on both, before the Fiscal Year ( July 1st) begins

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I can imagine the Mets not giving a shit if something Yankee-related in ownership stake only were right next to them.

      Your four “logical locations” are absolutely ridiculous. You might as well commute to Harrison from the city if you’re going to Belmont. Same goes for SI, although SI could use some PR boost after Sandy. Maybe that has some credence to it. I don’t know when you’ve been within ten feet of Atlantic Yards, but suggesting that another monstrous arena get shoehorned into a RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD is just asenine.

      Flushing, College Point, etc., are actually quite good ideas. Flushing Meadows works, as there is already quite the sports complex there between CitiField and Ashe Stadium, as well as a lot of undeveloped space by College Point that, while not easily accesible by the 7, could be utilized. Flushing Meadows housed a World’s Fair. It can house another facility.

      (It’s a shame that the World’s Fair structures we all know from MIB have never been landmarked and have fallen into massive disrepair, but I digress.)

      I don’t really see where close to YS3 this could be built. They’re not getting rid of the parkland they built in exchange for taking the parkland used for YS3.

  • kevin

    good news about this maybe Randy Levine will stay out of the baseball side of things. Hey randy take ichiro with you

  • Sir Ryan Giggs




    • Tony

      ok then…

  • Bob Buttons

    Sucks because they didn’t forget to register and unlike JetBluePark.

    Also sucks because I’m anti- Man Shitty, but it’s not like I watch MLS anyways.

  • Pinkie Pie

    New York already has a MLS Franchise, no? Do the Red Bulls ring a bell? It’s also a little odd that THE YANKEES decidied to partner with a franchise like Man City instead of a club with more pedigree for something like this.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I hear you, and I think that should be enough for the area, but perhaps they’re seeing a money-making opportunity here and are going to run with it. Time will tell.

  • I’m not the droids you’re looking for…

    Funny. I can see the WB Mason logo jerseys now.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Is Yankee Stadium large enough for a proper soccer pitch, or would it be one of those ‘we can only play in one direction’ deals?

  • And in merrie olde England

    This deal is hilarious in terms of what Citeh (sic) are doing, I can see some big signings for NYCFC. I imagine they’ll all go on loan to the parent club for no cost other than covering as low a percentage of wages as is possible. Saying that I could see a few who need rehab games coming the other way.

    Question for the people in the area(/former residents/owners of crystal balls): How would the MLS/NYC take to being the home to a feeder (Football equivalent of minor league) club?

  • Mykey

    COYG! (Sorry).