Photo by Damion Reid/FiveBoroSports.com
BY DYLAN BUTLER
With the theme "bringing the greatest sport in the world to the greatest city in the world," F.C. New York was officially introduced as New York City's lone professional soccer team at a press conference at the Yale Club in Manhattan on Wednesday morning.
The club will be the 13th United Soccer Leagues First Division team and will play its first game in the 2010 season.
"This is a long time coming," said Doug Petersen, who along with Jo-Ellen Treiber, heads the club's ownership group. "This has been about two years in the planning and the next thing is grinding it out with the city of New York, it's formalizing what I'll call our foundational partner. From there, our plan is to establish more than casual relationships with a number of clubs around the world that meet the commercial operations of the team."
The team, for at least one season, will play at Shuart Stadium, Hofstra's 13,000-seat football stadium, and hopes to open its own soccer specific stadium in Queens, where Petersen was born. One possible area is near John F. Kennedy Airport and Aqueduct Racetrack, according to sources. The team is likely to use other venues inside the five boroughs, including Icahn Stadium on Randall's Island and Columbia University's renovated Baker Field for a handful of games next season.
"We need to be in our facility in order to be profitable," Petersen said. "We're not putting all this money in and in two years say it isn't working. We need to get our own place."
The next step for F.C. New York will be forming a partnership with a European-based club, an ongoing trend in the USL. Sources indicate the club is likely in England and could have at least part of its name as part of the team's official name, e.g. F.C. New York Wanderers. According to Petersen, the USL has a rule that says each team must have a nickname, using F.C. Miami Blues as an example.
"I shouldn't say the name is not for sale because everything has a price, but a partnership is just that," Petersen said. "There's certain things they'll learn from us and we'll learn from them."
United Soccer Leagues president Francisco Marcos and executive vice president and chief operating officer Tim Holt were also on hand for the press conference. F.C. New York will be the first team to play in the USL's highest level since the Long Island Rough Riders and Staten Island Vipers in the late 90s.
"We are thrilled to welcome F.C. New York as the newest addition to the USL First Division," Holt said. "Their ownership group's impressive and ambitious plans to develop a complete soccer club with a strong international partner and privately-financed future stadium will boost the profile of our league in one of the world's largest and most diverse markets."
Petersen also poked fun at the New York Red Bulls, the other professional team to call New York home. Although he has yet to name a coach or a single player, Petersen already issued a challenge to the Major League Soccer side, showcasing a trophy for what he hopes is an annual "Grapple for the Apple" exhibition game.
"We're throwing down the gauntlet to our brothers from the other side of the river and over there in that other state," Petersen said.
And Petersen said he's got the perfect location for such a game.
"Let's have it on the Great Lawn in Central Park," he said.
While the organization is still very much in the planning stages, Petersen has a vision for where he'd like to see F.C. New York in five years.
"In five years, our plan is to be in our own place, have a productive team that's competing in CONCACAF (Champions League) and winning championships," Petersen said.
Season ticket deposits of $50 are now being accepted. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-827-0154.
What do you think of F.C. New York? Are you excited about supporting a team that calls New York City home? Is there room for two professional teams in New York? Looking foward to a derby match in Central Park? Let us know.