MLS expansion team NYCFC plays its first home match Sunday afternoon against the New England Revolution. In case you haven’t been paying attention, NYCFC hasn’t found a permanent, long-term home within the five boroughs. The temporary solution is playing home games at Yankee Stadium, since the Yankees own a small percentage of the club. All signs point toward it being a less-than-perfect solution for a myriad of reasons.
For one, it sounds like the Yankees players aren’t exactly thrilled that there is going to be a soccer field with temporary grass laid down across most of the infield 17 times in 2015.
The Wall Street Journal quoted two Yankees infielders — Mark Teixeira and Brendan Ryan — about the adjustments they’ll need to make because of the soccer configuration. Said Teixeira:
“It’ll definitely cause an issue, but it’s nothing that we can control, so we can’t worry about it,” said first baseman Mark Teixeira. “It’s terrible for a field.”
“You want to limit the amount of bounces, really,” Ryan said. “So I’m going to fall on the side of erring aggressively—much, much more so than staying back and trying to read some hop that’s unpredictable. I’m going to be selling out to go get that ball, and I’m going to err on that side much more.”
Time will tell if these concerns are unfounded or not. As we know many baseball players are creatures of habit and routine, so expect more complaining as the year progresses. (Thankfully, The Captain already retired since, god forbid, his hallowed ground at shortstop be altered in any way.) By the same token, it’s doubtful too many soccer players are going to enjoy playing on a temporary sod covering a sizable portion of the field.
Neither set of players is going to like this, but the powers that be running the Yankees and City won’t mind so much. Upwards of 30,000 tickets have already been sold Sunday’s NYCFC home opener and the team plans to open up the entire stadium for the game. Think of all the beer and replica t-shirt jerseys they’ll sell.
To me, it’s somewhat funny and ironic that the the billion dollar Yankees, who have more money than pretty much every sports team on the planet are now in the same boat as the Oakland Athletics at the O.co Coliseum, in that they have to share their stadium with another team. The A’s only have to worry about sharing the actual field with the Raiders for a couple months, not the entire season.
This is going to be a story for as long as NYCFC calls the Stadium home.
[Top photo vis USAT]