Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise New York City FC (NYCFC) is set to end long-running efforts to secure a home of its own after striking a deal to build a new stadium on land adjacent to Citi Field, the ballpark of MLB team the New York Mets.
An official announcement on the deal is expected later today (Wednesday), but the New York Times has said New York City officials have reached an agreement to build what would be the city’s first professional soccer stadium as part of a mixed-use development that will seek to reinvigorate the Willets Point neighbourhood of Queens.
The 25,000-seat stadium for NYCFC is expected to be complete by 2027, with the wider 23-acre site including a 250-room hotel and 2,500 units of housing. It will mean the site has the potential to become a major new sports and entertainment destination comprising Citi Field, the new soccer stadium and the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which hosts the U.S. Open grand slam tournament.
“Queens, which is the world’s borough, now will become the home of soccer, which is the world’s sport,” Maria Torres-Springer, Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development, told the Times.
City officials have said NYCFC, which is part of the City Football Group (CFG) empire, will pay for the entire construction of the stadium, which is projected at $780m (£657.1m/€749m). Neither tax-exempt bond financing or direct city capital infusions will be used, according to Andrew Kimball, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
New York City owns the land on which the project will be built, and will lease it to NYCFC and a development team that includes Related Companies and Sterling Equities. Under the terms of a 49-year lease, the club will pay up to $4m per year to lease the land for the stadium. NYCFC will hold an option for a 25-year extension to the agreement.
The stadium is set to be the first major-league sports venue of note to be developed in New York since 2012. The latest developments come after it was reported in July that NYCFC could be close to a breakthrough in its efforts to secure a stadium of its own, with Mayor Eric Adams supposedly set to announce his support for a 25,000-seat facility near Citi Field.
Since its launch in 2015, NYCFC, which is majority owned by CFG, has been forced to live a nomadic lifestyle with a number of proposals for a soccer-specific stadium having failed to come to fruition.
This season, the club has been playing home games at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, homes of Major League Baseball franchises the Mets and New York Yankees, respectively, along with Red Bull Arena, which houses MLS rival New York Red Bulls.
July’s report came after news surfaced a few months earlier that a new stadium would most likely be built in the Bronx. Commenting on the latest news, MLS commissioner Don Garber said: “This is just another step toward this vision that we want our clubs to be embedded in the community that’s accessible to fans.”