Man City, Yankees get MLS team

Updated: 2013-05-23 05:37

By Reuters in Miami (China Daily)

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Two of the biggest franchises in sports will attempt to bring soccer back to New York

The New York Yankees and Premier League club Manchester City have formed a Major League Soccer team to play in New York City beginning in 2015, aiming to win over America's largest sports market to the global game.

City, owned by Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi, will be the majority partner in New York City Football Club with the biggest name in baseball, the Yankees, as a minority partner active in running the team.

The ownership group will pay a $100 million franchise fee.

Man City, Yankees get MLS team

New York City has been without a top professional soccer team since the demise in the mid-1980s of the old Cosmos, which featured soccer greats like Brazil's Pele and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer.

While the New York Red Bulls are based in Harrison, New Jersey, MLS has long coveted a chance to get inside the five boroughs of the city itself.

"This is another big day for soccer in America," MLS commissioner Don Garber told Reuters.

"We have worked for quite some time on trying to finalize a deal to bring the 20th MLS team to New York City. Two of the biggest, most prestigious and clearly most respected sports organizations in the world are joining together to own this team."

MLS has steadily grown since its formation in 1996, with successful, well-supported teams in cities such as Los Angeles and Seattle. But it has failed to attract large television audiences and the league hopes a New York team will change that.

Garber said MLS viewed a top-flight team in New York City itself as a defining moment for the league.

"This is a big market and represents over 19 million people," he said.

"I think it will be transformational for MLS and for soccer in America. This country is rapidly becoming a very powerful and passionate soccer nation and it is our view that bringing together these two organizations will allow us to continue that tremendous momentum and bring it arguably to the most important city in the entire world," he added.

Man City, Yankees get MLS team

Manchester City, which won the Premier League in the 2011-12 season before finishing second to local rival United this year, hopes the Yankees will allow it to tap into expertise in reaching sports fans in New York.

"This is the best of both worlds - we believe we know how to manage a soccer club and the Yankees are a top sports organization in the world and are true New Yorkers," Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano told Reuters.

"We have a long term plan for soccer in New York, and there couldn't be a better partner," he said.

While City have been working on the details of an MLS franchise for nine months, Yankees president Randy Levine said his organization only joined the process "very, very recently".

"We are really excited. (The late) George Steinbrenner, the boss, and the Steinbrenner family, (owners) Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, have long been soccer fans," Levine told Reuters.

"This is a phenomenal opportunity for us, in our home market, to partner with Manchester City, one of the great organizations in the world."

The new team will play at a temporary home in 2015 while efforts to find and build a new stadium are completed, and Levine said Yankee Stadium was one option in the meantime.

Sheikh Mansour's wealth and the Yankees local contacts should help in the construction of a new stadium.

MLS has already begun discussions with the City of New York about the possibility of building a new stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens but other options will also be looked at.

(China Daily 05/23/2013 page22)