It’s probably fair to say that Major League Soccer hasn’t caught on in the United States to the degree at which some thought it would when the league launched in 1993. Twenty years ago. How many of you can honestly say that you knew the league had been around for twenty years? MLS has thrived in its own right, don’t get me wrong, but it still falls a distance behind the four major professional leagues.
Earlier this afternoon MLS announced their continued expansion, as the league will add their 20th franchise beginning with the 2015 season – the New York City Football Club. This will be the league’s second team within the NY/NJ metropolitan area (the New York Red Bulls play in northern New Jersey) but their first directly within the five boroughs of New York City. NYCFC will be co-owned by the city, the English Premier League’s Manchester City, and the New York Yankees.
You read that right. The New York Yankees co-own an MLS expansion team.
The historically free-spending but more recently cost-concious because they want to find a way to get in under Major League Baseball’s luxury tax threshold New York Yankees have bought into an expansion soccer franchise that will play right in the city. The official release at MLB.com has more details.
The Yankees organization is expected to be a minority owner in the group, though still active in decisions. The team and Manchester City first established a relationship through business conducted via the team’s Legends Hospitality company. Manchester City is playing a “friendly” game at Yankee Stadium this weekend against Chelsea FC. The move appears to be an investment decision on the part of the Yankees, who’ll hope to benefit from their own popularity within the city limits to help build a following for NYCFC. Where they will wind up playing permanently – as that detail has yet to be finalized, though there’s reportedly been some talk of building a soccer-first stadium in Queens – could ultimately lend an impact on the franchise’s immediate success.