MLS Announces New York City FC

MLS drops the bomb. Expansion team awarded to New York New York, the town so nice they named it twice. Cohiba Don has his 20th.

Out of the blue partnership with New York Yankees - take THAT Wilpon creeps - and Manchester City (code name for "that Arab guy") as the majority shareholder, forking over a reported $100 million entry fee.

Yankees president Randy Levine says his organization only joined the process "very, very recently". Like, possibly, last Thursday.

And either they held the "auction" for the team in private or there really weren't that many guys with $100 million after all. Go figure. Then again, I'm guessing that the group led by Chuck Blazer wasn't a viable option after all.

They say they'll start play in 2015 in an "interim" facility someplace or other but no specific place is mentioned.

In terms of a permanent home, the interesting thing is that they specifically say, when noting that MLS has been in discussions about FMCP in Queens, that "the club" (ie. NYCFC) will be taking over for the league in those negotiations. That would seem to suggest that they themselves will also be taking over the ownership and financing of the deal, since ManCity and the Yankees can't negotiate with someone else's money.

They allow, however, that other sites will be considered.

Up until now the plan was supposedly for MLS to build the place, lease it to a team and also operate it as a concert venue. It would seem that those plans have gone by the board.

The timing of the announcement is also notable. Maybe they figured it would get out anyway - recent reports had pretty much conceded the thing to the ManCity group - and figured they'd get the first swing in.

Part of it may be that as much as everyone tried to claim that "Manchester City" was a possible - or likely - owner, it was beginning to dawn on people that in fact "Manchester CIty" is really Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a filthy rich Oil princeling. Opposition groups were beginning to get real traction with "Why are we raping our lovely cement bowl of slime pristine parkland to build a playpen for some rich Arab?".

A partnership with the Yankees, however, will help make that one go away.

Or maybe they're punching a hole in the Cosmos deal over in Elmont; a real team, in real New York and in a real top level pro league, with the Yankees as part of the ownership, has to make the State Development people wonder if buying into this Cosmos bunch makes any sense.

Here's the release:

NEW YORK (May 21, 2013) - Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber announced today that a partnership of global sports powers, Manchester City Football Club and the New York Yankees, has acquired the League's 20th expansion club. The new team will be named New York City Football Club (NYCFC) and expects to begin play in 2015.

"We proudly welcome two of the most prestigious professional global sports organizations to Major League Soccer," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber . "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."

"New York is a legendary sports town, as well as a thriving global city with a rapidly expanding soccer fan-base," said Ferran Soriano, CEO of Manchester City Football Club , who will oversee the process of filling top New York City FC leadership positions in the weeks to come. "We are thrilled to contribute to the energy and growth of New York City Soccer. In the Yankees, we have found the absolute best partner for developing a world-class sports organization and a winning team that will carry the New York City Football Club name with pride."

Manchester City will be the majority owner of the new Club. As an investor, the Yankees will be an active member of the ownership group. The New York Yankees and Manchester City Football Club have an existing commercial relationship through Legends Hospitality, LLC, an international entertainment, hospitality and marketing organization. Yankee Stadium is pleased to be hosting Manchester City on Saturday, May 25 for a "friendly" match against Chelsea FC, giving New York area fans a rare opportunity to see two outstanding English Premier League clubs up close.

"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," Mr. Steinbrenner added.

With millions of residents watching soccer every week and nearly two million people actively playing the game, the New York/New Jersey area is one of North America's most vibrant and proud soccer communities. The region has filled stadiums for countless marquee soccer events including the 1994 FIFA Men's World Cup, the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, three MLS All-Star Games and numerous international exhibition matches. NYCFC becomes the first MLS club whose home will be located within the five boroughs, joining the Red Bulls as the second MLS club in the metropolitan area.

"Soccer is one of the world's most exciting and popular sports, and it should be played on the world's biggest stage -- in New York City," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "New Yorkers are the greatest sports fans in the world, and they will welcome a Major League Soccer franchise with the full-throated and loyal support they are famous for. Manchester City has a great reputation for both winning teams and serious community investment, and that will help them fit in well with the excellent leadership of New York City's other professional sports teams. Increasingly, sports events and activities -- from the NHL playoffs to the MLB All-Star game to the SuperBowl -- are spurring economic growth, as our investments in new arenas and infrastructure are paying off."

Future: A Home Field for NYC's Newest Team

New York City FC is committed to seeking a new permanent stadium in New York. Until that time, the new team is arranging to play in an interim home beginning in its inaugural MLS season in 2015. Over the past year, MLS began discussions with the City of New York and other stakeholders about the possibility of constructing a new stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park (FMCP) in Queens. The Club's new management will continue these discussions with local government officials, community residents and businesses, soccer leagues, and MLS. The Club will continue to review other potential sites as well.

"New York City FC will have a permanent home in the City in the great traditions of New York sports and world soccer -- a home that must be a sports, commercial and civic success," Soriano said. "But in considering any stadium site, we will listen first. This is what we have always done in Manchester and what we will do in New York. Only in this way, can the Club truly represent the City whose name it will carry."

"City Soccer in the Community": NYC FC's Commitment to Youth Soccer in NYC

Manchester City is a leader among sports organizations in its charitable efforts, with one-sixth of its staff fully dedicated full-time to community outreach. Building on this tradition of community outreach, New York City FC will expand and enhance the grassroots youth soccer program "City Soccer in the Community," which it has been running in New York since 2010. The program, now headquartered at PS 72 (Lexington Academy) in East Harlem, which boasts New York City's only rooftop soccer field, provides quality soccer instruction and programming to thousands of children in 20 NYC public schools each year. New York City FC looks forward to expanding its community outreach to bring soccer to thousands of more kids throughout the five boroughs.