No concerns about Yankee Stadium field after NYCFC announces schedule

(REUTERS/Adam Hunger)
(REUTERS/Adam Hunger)

Early last year we learned Major League Soccer’s newest expansion franchise — New York City Football Club — will play its 2015 home games at Yankee Stadium. It’s believed NYCFC will also call the Bronx home in 2016 and 2017 as they look for their own stadium, but right now only the 2015 season has been confirmed. The Yankees own one-quarter of NYCFC.

NYCFC announced its 17-game home schedule earlier this week, which you can see right here. The MLS schedule runs from March through October, so it overlaps with the MLB season entirely. NYCFC will play their first home game on March 15th, while the Yankees are still in Tampa for Spring Training, and their final game on October 25th, right smack in the middle of the postseason.

Needless to say, having two teams playing two different sports share the same ballpark all season is less than ideal, but the Yankees have no concerns about the field itself. They said so when the entered into the agreement with NYCFC and reiterated it again earlier this week. From Dan Barbarisi:

“We have the greatest grounds crew and stadium operations people in the world,” (team president Randy) Levine said. “We feel very confident. We wouldn’t have done this unless we feel very confident that the field will be perfect for both soccer and baseball.”

Yankee Stadium has hosted soccer games before, including an exhibition game between Manchester City and Chelsea in May 2013, during which temporary grass was laid over the outfield. Perhaps that’s what they’ll do this year, though I’m sure doing that once is much different than doing it every other week. Here’s more from Barbarisi:

Yankee Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost has estimated that it will take three days (2½ in a pinch) to turn over the field from soccer to baseball. The schedule allows for three full days after every NYCFC home game before the Yankees take the field on the fourth day—save one, when NYCFC hosts the Montreal Impact on Aug. 1, before the Yankees host the rival Boston Red Sox just three days later.

Then there is the matter of Oct. 25, when NYCFC is scheduled to host the New England Revolution, a date that also figures to be right around the start of the World Series. If the Yankees make it that far, a person with knowledge of the situation said, several contingencies exist for handling the soccer game, including the use of other sites, ensuring that baseball’s postseason would not be affected.

Barbarisi hears the pitcher’s mound will not interfere with the soccer pitch and won’t have to be torn down and rebuilt every time NYCFC plays a game. That’s … reassuring? I am worried about the condition of the field next season, especially in the second half after it’s had a few months to get chewed up by the two sports and all the transitions back and forth.

I’m also certain the Yankees wouldn’t have committed to letting NYCFC play in Yankee Stadium if they weren’t confident the field would be in good shape. They have one expensive baseball team and those players are investments they’re trying to protect. I guess we’ll just have to see how this goes as the season progresses.

Metal detectors coming to Yankee Stadium on August 19th

Metal detectors will be in place and operation at the various Yankee Stadium entrances starting August 19th, the Yankees announced. There will be MLB-mandated metal detectors at every ballpark starting next season. Fans who opt not to go through the walk-through metal detector can be checked manually with a wand. Here is the full press release. We’re all going to have to start getting to the ballpark a little earlier than usual. Not a fan of this, but it is what it is.

It’s official: NYC Football Club will play home games in Yankee Stadium in 2015

As expected, the New York City Football Club will play its home games in Yankee Stadium during the 2015 season, it was announced. The expansion Major League Soccer franchise was unable to build a stadium of their own, so they will play in the Bronx for the time being. The Yankees co-own the team along with Manchester City. Although only the 2015 season was announced, NYCFC is expected to spend three years total in Yankee Stadium while they secure a facility of their own.

Report: Expansion NY MLS franchise will play in Yankee Stadium for three years

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Last summer the Yankees teamed up with Manchester City to become part owners of Major League Soccer’s latest expansion franchise, the appropriately named New York City Football Club. It is the second MLS franchise in the area, joining the New York Red Bulls. The Yankees reportedly own a quarter of NYCFC and their involvement has mostly to do with concessions (Legends Hospitality) and their New York political ties.

According to the New York Times, NYCFC has been unable to find a permanent home. Community opposition derailed plans for a stadium at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, and rumors of a facility between the Major Deegan and East 153rd St. have not materialized. Because of this, the club will play it’s home games at Yankee Stadium for the next three (!) years. NYCFC must secure a location and build a stadium within that time, which does not figure to be easy considering how things have played out over the last year.

Yankee Stadium has hosted several soccer and non-baseball events over the years, though most were held during the offseason. Manchester City and Chelsea played an exhibition game in the Bronx last May while the Yankees were on an eight-game road trip. Temporary grass was laid over the infield (see the photo above) and I assume that is the plan for the next three years. The MLB and MLS seasons both run from March to October, so there is plenty of overlap. Here’s more from the Times:

A Yankees executive emphasized to reporters earlier this year that a potential shared space was not a concern, saying the Yankees “realized what we were getting into” when they went into their M.L.S. partnership with Manchester City.

At an event in February to announce a summer exhibition game between Manchester City and Liverpool, Mark Holtzman, the Yankees’ executive director of nonbaseball events, said the team generally required several days to prepare for events and then several more to repair the playing surface for baseball. But he also noted that since its opening in 2009, the stadium has hosted soccer games as well as a schedule of summer concerts.

Obviously wear and tear is a pretty big concern. The MLS schedule runs 34 games, which means one home game every two weeks or so, on average. Back-to-back NYCFC home games and stuff like that could really tear up the field. There’s also the matter of removing and rebuilding the pitcher’s mound. That said, Holtzman and the Yankees are not concerned.

“Technology has gotten to the point where I think we can turn it around pretty quickly,” Holtzman said.

“Baseball is clearly the No. 1 priority,” he added. “We wouldn’t do anything to put anyone at any risk; there’s a major investment here in the players. At the end of the day, we look at these opportunities very carefully, and we wouldn’t get into these opportunities unless we were confident in the end result.”

NYCFC will begin play during the 2015 season. An official announcement of their temporary move into Yankee Stadium is expected next week.

Report: MLB tells teams to implement security screening by 2015

Via Ronald Blum: MLB has informed the 30 clubs they must implement security screening for fans by 2015. The league specifically asked for metal detectors, either walk-through or hand-held wands. “This procedure, which results from MLB’s continuing work with the Department of Homeland Security to standardize security practices across the game, will be in addition to bag checks that are now uniform throughout MLB,” said a league spokesman.

The league tested the new screening system in a handful of ballparks last year, as well as at the All-Star Game and World Series. They started looking for ways to improve security following the Boston Marathon bombing last year. The NFL upgraded its security procedures this season, so MLB is not alone. I’ve never felt unsafe at a baseball game or any sporting event in general, but it seems like the screening is happening whether we like it or not. Get to the game early, I guess.

Rest in Peace: Bleacher Creature Udi Latarre

I spend a fair amount of my summer at Yankee Stadium and get to meet a lot of personalities.  From the folks over at Yankee Bar and Grill, to the Twitter folks who come hang out in 420a and of course the Bleacher Creatures.

Udi Latarre, photo from BleacherCreatures.tv
Udi Latarre, photo from BleacherCreatures.tv

A few years back I struck up a relationship with (Bald) Vinny Milano after some back and forth on Twitter.  Eventually he welcomed myself and my wife into the “Creature Family” and introduced us to a lot of the regulars.  One of those regulars was Udi Latarre, a creature of the highest regard.

Udi was a smile, a funny joke, a photobomb and a stiff drink every time.  Udi was a man who wanted to work hard in the IT industry and watch the Yankees play.  Udi was a sweetheart who always was happy to see a familiar face.  I only spent a few years getting to know him, but he was genuine and great.  Vinny sent along notice last night that Udi Latarre passed away earlier this week at home suddenly.

Udi Latarre, Photo from his Facebook.
Udi Latarre at the annual Bleacher Creature Softball Game, Photo by Tracey 

Yankee Stadium has lost some real personality since the move from the old place to the new.  People have critized that the common fan has been priced out, that it’s too quiet and just not the same.  But losing real people like Udi furthers that great people make up a venue as much as the fancy video screens, expensive food and high priced beers.  A house needs a family to be a home, and Udi was a member of a family.

Please take a moment in your day to remember that sometimes it’s more than just watching a baseball game.  It’s about the relationships that come from sitting next to the person next to you and making a snide remark about the other team.  The guy who starts the funny chant.  The guy who might have on a funny shirt about “the wave.”  Remember people like Udi, they just wanted to enjoy the game, like you.

Thanks for being my friend for a little while.  Take care Udi.