BRocklin, Bronx, Queens and Staten, from Battery to the top of Manhattan, New York City has long searched for a permanent home within its five boroughs, but has so far struggled to make it happen.
Since joining Major League Soccer in 2015, the New York Football Club has played the majority of its home games at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, the home of the Major League Baseball team Yankees, whose owners, Yankee Global Enterprises, own a 20% stake in Major League Baseball. foot. It was supposed to be a temporary measure while the NYC team worked on finding a site for a permanent soccer home, but eight seasons later, the club is still around, playing on a baseball field.
It is still seen as a temporary hiatus. The search for a site to develop a new facility continues, but there were roadblocks at every turn. Many see the situation as an embarrassment to the club, and indeed, MLS. But many New York Football Club fans really enjoy elements of the Yankee Stadium experience, especially the fan sections.
The Guardian has spoken to a number of New York City club fans, both online and in person, who are keen on Yankee Stadium. For many, it’s easier to get to than other places the team has played – Yankee Stadium is accessible via a number of subway lines and is close to the Metro North line for fans coming into town. And the fact that the team has now been in the area for several years means that many of its most loyal fans live nearby (the Bronx also has the highest percentage of Hispanics among New York’s five boroughs, a demographic with a strong football following). Moving elsewhere could mean a longer trip for many of the club’s fans.
Citi Field, home of the New York Mets in Queens, has been a secondary venue for NYC FC in recent years. Many enjoy watching the matches there, but those who are part of the fan group tend to prefer Yankee Stadium because the stands make for an ideal gathering place behind the goal.
“Yankee Stadium looks a lot worse on TV than on a personal level, in my opinion, and I like my seat there in Division 135 below the cheerleader,” says Bjorn Bielenbaum, a Brooklyn-based New York fan. “I take my kids to the games, they’re teenagers now but for the first few years the lounge/general admission wasn’t really an option. But we get in it so we like to be close to the fan section, so the seating area under the stands is perfect and obviously it wouldn’t be like that.” way on the football field.
For fans watching TV, the main camera angle at Yankee Stadium is often criticized for being too low and too far. But it still shows a clear view of the movement, quite different from the descending pattern that is more common in other stadiums. There’s also a tactical camera view from behind one of the targets that’s unique and useful (at least for those interested in that sort of thing).
Other complaints were that the area furthest from the football field, behind the house panel and not unlike the TV corner (and by the way where the press box is), is also too far from the action. But watch a match from this point of view in person and it will be better than those of some other well-known stadiums around the world, in a number of which there are running tracks between the stands and the stadium, or even obscured scenes.
Then there’s the issue of small pitch dimensions, but this can also be a positive if players have the technique to shine in tight spaces, potentially ideal for tight defensive structures and rebounding pressure. NYC FC doesn’t lose a lot of games at Yankee Stadium—perhaps because teams far away are not used to playing in such a tight environment. The only away team to win there this season is Philadelphia Union, which specializes in tight defense and high pressing. Besides, recent findings suggest that New York FC players don’t hate playing at Yankee Stadium that much: they are, after all, the champions of the MLS.
Some of the criticism from those who aren’t fans of the New York City club may feel like a case of first world problems. Yankee Stadium does not fit the perception that a football viewing experience usually looks like, so it is criticized. Non-orthodox does not mean bad. Some of the best stadiums and the best atmosphere in world football will have an element of being uncomfortable or embarrassing about them, but that often gives these sports theaters a unique character.
There may also be a lesson here when the club eventually builds its own stadium. It would be tempting to go with a stadium like the Red Bull Arena – home to New York’s other MLS team, the New Jersey-based Red Bulls, an impressive if somewhat generic stadium dedicated to football. Or they can keep baseball-style stands for standing areas, grand scoreboards, and Americana, incorporating the cosmopolitan character of New York into the venue.
All this does not mean that supporters of the New York City club should accept the status quo. Club support often revolves around staying with a team through tough times while at the same time fighting for something better. But once they find a new home and build a new facility, fans can look back on the Yankee Stadium era as a “I was there” moment that wasn’t actually that bad. Some may even miss it.