While in Sacramento, Calif., to meet with that city’s mayor, former NBA Star Kevin Johnson, about a possible expansion team, MLS Commissioner Don Garber addressed a number of issues that included the current stadium situation with New York City FC.
Most importantly for NYC FC fans, there was no news regarding a possible location for a soccer specific stadium for the club, which now plies its trade on the tight pitch at Yankee Stadium.
Garber, who has been hands on with stadium issues for soon-to-be MLS side Minnesota United and others, said the league learned its lesson in allowing NYC FC to debut without a stadium deal lined up, according to a report on ESPNFC.com. He said that going forward, all expansion teams will have to have their “economic ducks in a row” before entering the league.
While that might be a tacit admission of a mistake, one wonders if Garber would really have said no to a team with connections to Premier League side Manchester City and its well-funded Middle Eastern owners. It’s also highly likely that the MLS commissioner was pleased with NYC FC’s first year attendance figures.
In 2015, New York City drew nearly 500,000 fans for its 17 home matches, an average of slightly more than 29,000. Both those figures trailed only Seattle Sounders and Orlando City SC.
The ESPNFC report noted that Garber declined to offer any details — if there are any — but did touch on the difficulty in completing stadium projects in places like New York.
“It’s not easy to develop a stadium or any real estate project in New York City,” he said. “I don’t know that I can speak to their progress. All I know is that they’re committed to it, deeply focused on it, and confident that they will be in a new stadium.”