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Bronx stadium deal lined up for NYCFC

New York City FC’s plans for its own stadium are set to move forward after the Major League Soccer club revived a proposal for a new 25,000-seat venue in the Bronx.

The team has played at Yankee Stadium, home of the New York Yankees Major League Baseball franchise, since it entered MLS in 2015.

NYCFC has long held plans for its own soccer-specific stadium. In 2017, the club presented a bid to redevelop part of the Belmont Park racetrack into a new 26,000-seat venue but eventually lost out to a rival proposal from NHL ice hockey team the New York Islanders.

The dimensions of the baseball field at Yankee Stadium mean that NYCFC’s pitch is among the smallest in MLS, with some fans also feeling the distance between supporters and the players has had an adverse effect on the atmosphere.

In a statement issued on Saturday, NYCFC chief executive Brad Sims provided an update on the team’s plans to build its own permanent stadium. Sims stressed that nothing has been finalised but said “significant progress” has been made.

He said: “We are actively involved with MADDD Equities, the Yankees, NYC Economic Development Corporation, the Bronx Parking Authority, and numerous Bronx community groups and local leaders to bring a transformative project proposal to the South Bronx, one piece of which would be a soccer-specific stadium. We are proud to partner with MADDD Equities, a well-known affordable housing developer, and NYC EDC to grow our engagement with local community leaders as we embark on the public approval process.

“In the coming months, we will take further steps to formalise 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.”

While Sims did not disclose the details of any potential new stadium, the New York Times newspaper reported that the team is close to an agreement that would allow it to build a 25,000-seat stadium. The venue would reportedly be located in the South Bronx and form part of a wider project worth more than $1bn (£773m/€915m).

A representative for the city’s Economic Development Corporation said in a statement to the Times: “It’s long past time to make the underutilised parking lots around Yankee Stadium into something more. The city has been approached by a team of affordable housing developers, the Yankees and the N.Y.C. Football Club.

“A deal has not been reached, and more conversations are needed. We are hopeful for a future where these lots can better serve the community. The first step toward achieving that is engaging the community on their needs and vision for this area.”

The Times noted that the work would not begin until 2022 at the earliest.

The development comes after NYCFC announced last week that it would play a CONCACAF Champions League match against Costa Rica’s San Carlos at Red Bull Arena, home of MLS rival the New York Red Bulls, on February 26. The decision was taken after it became clear that Yankee Stadium and the New York Mets’ Citi Field would not be available to stage the match.

Image: NYCFC