Soccer fans will soon flood the Bronx – but for how long is still being kicked around.
New York City Football Club (NYCFC) will play its 2015 season in Yankee Stadium, team officials announced at an Apr. 22 press conference at the ballpark.
But as the specter of a possible new stadium for the team looms, NYCFC brass is staying quiet on the team’s long-term plans.
Reports leaked in late 2013 that NYCFC –which is owned by a group that includes a billionaire Sheik from Abu Dhabi, as well as the New York Yankees–was eyeing a site for their permanent home at River Avenue and E. 157th Street, but that plan has since fizzled with the new mayor.
For now, the team will play at least 17 home games at Yankee Stadium during the 2015 Major League Soccer (MLS) season, which runs from the spring to the fall. A few more contests will be added on if the team heads to the playoffs.
Bar owners excited
Local bar owners are excited about what they expect to mean added business and a new type of fan stopping by for a pre-or-post game drink.
“We are going to embrace soccer,” said Mike Rendino, manager at Stan’s Sports Bar and Stan’s Souvenir Shop across the street from Yankee Stadium on River Avenue.
“It’s a different clientele coming in, not just your average beer drinking baseball fan,” added Rendino. “We’re seeing more South Americans, more Europeans.”
But the flood of football enthusiasts headed to the South Bronx is not pleasing everyone. Locals who have long complained that the neighborhood becomes a drunken playground during Yankee games are bracing themselves for even more long and loud nights.
Alejandro Urrutia, who lives blocks from the stadium with his wife and two sons, said that during previous soccer games at the stadiums, fans have often wandered past his home breaking bottles and making noise.
“It’s a lot of yelling in the nighttime,” said Urrutia. “And all you smell is beer.”
Cary Goodman, the executive director of the 161th Street Business Improvement District, said some property owners have complained about public drunkenness during previous international soccer games hosted at Yankee Stadium.
But he hoped the added foot traffic and borough exposure would overshadow the boisterous behavior.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. – who championed the Bronx as NYCFC’s new home in a letter he sent to the team in June 2013 – agrees, and said he was “thrilled” that the team will start off playing in the borough.
“This will lead to more visitors to our borough, which in turn will mean more tourism dollars and more people discovering the ‘New Bronx,’ said the BP. “Soccer is a big deal in our borough, and we are very excited that the New York City Football Club is setting up shop right here.”
NYCFC supporting Bronx youth teams. See next page.