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My Two Cents

My Two Cents

August 12, 2013
The mysteries of NYC FC

Will Smith is a local soccer fan who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

By Will Smith
Special to

It was with great fanfare that MLS announced NYC FC as its 20th club on May 21. The league finally had its club that would be located in New York City proper and just in time for a new TV deal too!

Commissioner Garber beamed! Mayor Bloomberg beamed! Representatives from co-owners Manchester City and the New York Yankees beamed! Love was in the air!

A day later, NYC FC announced that local legend and former Man City star Claudio Reyna would oversee the team's soccer operations. More joy! More press! More love!

And then...nothing. We're heard nary a peep from the NYC FC itself since Memorial Day. All we've heard is some talk of the team playing at Yankee Stadium ... or not, depending on who you talk to.

In fact, everything about the team has been shrouded in mystery for the last 2 1/2 months. They are practically the Free Masons of soccer at this point.

Let's take a moment or two now to contemplate the Mysteries of NYC FC:

Where will they play?

It appears that the Flushing Meadows project is dead. Community opposition to Major League Soccer taking over park land usage was too great to overcome.

The problem with finding a place to play is that all of them are flawed. Aqueduct Race Track and Aviator Field have the space, but are far from Manhattan and lacking in public transportation. Columbia University has great location and mass transit accessibility, but is too small.

Yankee Stadium is a baseball stadium that will look half empty even when 25,000 fans are on hand. However, they won't have to pay rent to play there and wouldn't have the same scheduling difficulties they otherwise would have as guests. These are attractive incentives which makes it likely that NYC FC will end up playing at the House That Taxpayers Built.

Of course, a move to Yankee Stadium greatly increases the likelihood of the team settling in the Bronx long term, possibly near Hunts Point, which looks likely to be the future Williamsburg hipster discovery zone. How that affects potential fans from outside of the Bronx, Manhattan and Westchester remains to be seen.

Who will their fans be?

The problem with trying to figure out who NYC FC's fan base will be is that I can think of more parties that WOULDN'T root for the team that I can think of parties who WOULD root for the team.

Think about it. Whose the potential fan base? Red Bulls fans? They already have a team. Red Bulls fans who live in NY? Sixty percent of the paying fans are from New Jersey. Even if half of the NY-based attendees defect to NYC FC, that's only 4,000 people. Old MetroStars fans who are still upset over Red Bull taking over the team? They're already rooting for the Cosmos. Long Islanders? They have the North American Soccer League's Cosmos, too. Eurosnobs? No, this is still MLS. They couldn't care less? Fans of English Premier eague teams other than Man City? Not likely. Mets fans? Certainly not. The Yankees are part owners, for heaven's sake. People from Westchester who got lost driving to Manhattan? Maybe.

It remains a mystery to me who NYC FC's fan base would be.

What's up with that name?

In all honesty, NYCFC is the worst name in the history of soccer with the possible exception of "MetroStars." NYC already has an "FC" and they're called the Giants! If the ownership absolutely had to go with a "proper football culture" name, they could have gone with NYC SC ("soccer club") which, while not catchy, would at least not sound ridiculous in the United States.

Will MLS bend the rules for them?

Based on the foregoing, NYC FC will be playing in an enormous baseball stadium without an obvious core fan base.

Clearly, they will need to do something to draw crowds and garner TV ratings. Expect MLS to increase the number of desingated players to four and expect to see the salary cap raised. These owners are thinking big city, big glamor and big bucks. MLS is thinking big ratings and big bucks. Expect big changes.

What will they do to create a buzz?

NYC FC is seemingly doing some community work, which is great, but the team does need to make a splash. This is the Big Apple, baby! There are a dozen sports teams in the New Yorkarea, not to mention a million other things to do on a Saturday night. Hey, there's already two professional soccer teams in the area alone!

NYC FC needs to advertise, get in the press and make a splash; not lay low for two months as the team has done. Hell, I'm a soccer fan and I almost forget the team was out there. This is one instance where slow and sure will not win the race.

What effect will the Cosmos have on NYC FC?

NYC FC has the money and MLS status. The Cosmos have the name, history and have been laying down community roots in Queens and Long Island. The most logical thing in the world is for NYC FC to buy the Cosmos brand and name the team NYC Cosmos. Sounds far-fetched? Current Cosmos ownership has created more of a buzz with an NASL side than NYC FC has with an MLS side. The Cosmos owners can quadruple their investment if they sell the brand to NYC FC. It would make NYC FC seems less like a Bride of Frankenstein marriage. Don't bet against this option.

Is this Chivas 2.0?

MLS had better hope not. Back when Chivas USA joined the league, it was hoped that, by virtue of having the Mexican soccer team run the club, the expansion team would bring considerable know-how and experience to MLS along with thousands, if not millions, of Mexican soccer fans. In reality, they are a poorly run organization that draws terribly, loses constantly and has managed to alienate all Mexican soccer fans in the US who don't support Chivas Guadalajara. What a disaster. This team will eventually be sold and relocated.

New York City is the greatest, busiest, most exciting city in the world. It will take a lot for a soccer team to take it by storm. I'm not certain NYC
FC is remotely up for the challenge.

"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
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