Over 40,000 Soccer Fans Make Their Way to Yankee Stadium For Historic 1st Game

New York City FC's David Villa, second from left, scores past New England Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the 19th minute. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
New York City FC’s David Villa, second from left, scores past New England Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the 19th minute. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

New York City’s FC held their first Major League Soccer match at Yankee Stadium yesterday — and won against Boston’s New England Revolution team.  According to estimates, over 40,000 fans came out to this first historic day — something they will hopefully be doing for the next 3 years as soccer and baseball will share a home at Yankee Stadium.

Two years ago, Bronx residents, particularly those in the surrounding neighborhoods around Yankee Stadium, were caught off guard when a deal was announced that would have built a $400 million soccer stadium just south of Yankee Stadium at the defunct parking garages.

Community residents were up in arms at yet another sweetheart deal, a deal which would have given the NYCFC team over 30 years of rent free land (with the city losing over $150 million in rent) and tons of tax subsidies to pay for a stadium that could easily be built by the massive fortune of the teams two very wealthy owners:  The New York Yankees who owns 20% stake in the team and the Abu Dhabi United Group which controls the remaining 80% (ADUG has an estimated worth of $500 BILLION yet tax payers were being told to foot the bill for a new stadium).

After a year of community organizing against another sweetheart deal, the franchise dumped The Bronx and began searching for another area in NYC to build a stadium, but why do that when you can house it all under one roof?

Now we know that the logistics of soccer and baseball are quite different where both require different types of fields but considering that MLS teams ONLY play 17 home games a year, I’m sure these very wealthy franchises and ADUG can come up with solutions to make this a viable option for years to come — all under one roof.

In an article in USA Today last year, it was mentioned that:

“Soccer is a very different sport from baseball. While outfield grass in a baseball park can support three outfielders running over it over the course of a 9-inning game, it would be much more difficult to maintain grass that has 22 players running over it in thick studs for a 90-minute soccer match. Under the reported plan, that outfield grass could be subjected to that treatment for 17 or more home soccer games each summer.

On top of this, for every soccer game, the infield dirt must be covered with grass. If the field reaches the mound, the mound must be flattened for every game. For a good soccer pitch, the grass would be consistent from the outfield onto the turf that was placed over the infield. None of this is easy to do.”

New York Yankees executive director of nonbaseball events, Mark Holtzmann spoke to this matter in a New York Times interview where he said:

“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.”

What’s the verdict, folks? What do you think?  Should baseball and soccer play under one stadium if the tech is there to make it happen and not interfere with each other’s games?  It sure would make great use of tax payer dollars that went into building the new Yankee Stadium into a TRUE multi-purpose venue without the negative impacts of building a separate soccer stadium in the community for only 17 home games.

More on the story:

NYCFC debut at Yankee Stadium was not pitch perfect but gives much ground for optimism. After a false start with fans struggling to get inside, New York City FC’s first home match at Yankee Stadium was a success, now they must keep up the momentum

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.