By CAITLIN MURRAY
New York City FC officially announced Monday what everyone already knew — the Major League Soccer expansion club will play its inaugural 2015 season at Yankee Stadium. But they filled in the blanks about how the unique arrangement will work.
It will be a labor-intensive endeavor, with it taking three days to convert the Yankees baseball diamond to a soccer pitch and vice versa. The pitcher’s mound will need to be removed for every NYC FC game.
“We can work it in. We’ve analyzed it. We’ve tested it against existing schedules,” said Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost at a press conference in New York City on Monday. “The most difficult part will be awaiting to see the schedule in baseball, which is some time mid to late summer and the final schedule in December. But we will be working with the club and MLS to make certain the games do not get in the way of our regular schedule.”
Trost said there will be about 17 games during the regular baseball season that will overlap with the MLS season.
The placement of the pitch will be adjusted slightly from other soccer games they’ve hosted at Yankee Stadium, but will not have any obstructed views.
“The Yankees have a proven ability, as everyone has seen since they opened their doors here at the new Yankee Stadium, to pull these events off,” said NYC FC chief business offer Tim Pernetti during the press conference, streamed live online. “In-season, out of season, hockey, soccer, concerts — you name it, they’ve done it. And they’re no stranger to soccer. We’ve seen a lot of very high-level worldwide games played here. Our sister club in Manchester played here last year.”
NYC FC is jointly owned by Manchester City and the New York Yankees.
A training facility has yet to be announced, but Pernetti said there should be news on that front in “the next 30 days, if not before.”
Yankee Stadium’s normal capacity is 49,642, but for MLS games, the grandstand and terrace will be closed, bringing the total capacity to 33,444.
NYC FC plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in New York City and are looking at sites, Pernetti said.
“Our goal is to be in a soccer specific building as soon as possible,” he said. “At the same time, we’re not going to create artificial deadlines based on pressure that comes in different directions in order to do it the right way. We’re only going to get one shot to do it so I think we’re going to take the time necessary.”
Pernetti declined to confirm reports NYC FC would play at Yankee Stadium for three years, saying the planned arrangement with Yankee Stadium only extends through 2015.
Yankee Stadium was the most iconic New York City location to choose from and offered the most accessibility for fans to attend the matches, Pernetti added.
Season tickets were set to go on sale following Monday’s press conference with retired Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera being named the first season ticket-holder of the club.
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