New York City FC cites ‘significant progress’ towards soccer-specific stadium

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Major League Soccer’s New York City FC has made “significant progress” towards building a soccer-specific stadium in the Bronx, the club’s chief executive Brad Sims has claimed.

Last week, the New York Times reported that NYCFC’s owners, a group of local developers, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and various other bodies were nearing a deal that would allow the club to build a privately financed, 25,000-seat stadium in the South Bronx.

The planned facility would be part of a $1bn mixed-use development project that would also include a school, hotel, retail stores, a waterfront park and affordable housing units near Yankee Stadium, the team’s venue since joining MLS in 2015.

According to the report, the earliest NYCFC could move into the new stadium would be 2024. However, no deal has been reached and discussions are continuing. “Nothing has been finalized,” Sims told NYCFC fans in an open letter over the weekend.

Sims added: “In the coming months, we will take further steps to formalize our participation in the public approval process which will include engaging in meaningful public dialogue with community residents, civic leaders, supporters, and local elected officials to obtain critical feedback on the details of this proposal so that we can ensure the project meets the needs of the community and New York City as a whole.”

The stadium update came shortly after it was confirmed that NYCFC would be forced to play a Concacaf Champions League game later this month at Red Bull Arena, the home of MLS rivals New York Red Bulls due to scheduling issues at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

NYCFC said it would give season-ticket holders a free ticket to the game against Costa Rican side AD San Carlos on February 26 in Harrison, New Jersey, for the “inconvenience of playing outside of the five boroughs.” NYCFC is reportedly paying rent to the Red Bulls for the use of the venue.

NYCFC’s supporters’ groups said in a statement that playing a home game at Red Bull Arena was “unacceptable” to them and that they are considering boycotting the match or making in-game demonstrations.

This is not the first time that NYCFC has been forced to play games outside of Yankee Stadium, due to scheduling issues with Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees, the team’s co-owners and primary tenants of Yankee Stadium. In December, it was announced that NYCFC decided to move four regular season games to Citi Field, the home of MLB’s New York Mets, in 2020.