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Global May 21, 2013

Game changer: MLS announce N.Y. expansion team with Man City, Yankees

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber announced Tuesday that a partnership of global sports powers, Manchester City Football Club and the New York Yankees, has acquired MLS’ 20th expansion club. The new team will be named New York City Football Club (NYCFC) and expects to begin play in 2015.

“We proudly welcome two of the most prestigious professional global sports organizations to Major League Soccer,” said Garber in a press release. “This is a transformational development that will elevate the league to new heights in this country. The New York area is home to more than 19 million people­, and we look forward to an intense crosstown rivalry between New York City Football Club and the New York Red Bulls that will captivate this great city.”

Manchester City will be the majority owner of the new club. As an investor, the Yankees will be an active member of the ownership group.

“New York is a legendary sports town, as well as a thriving global city with a rapidly expanding soccer fan-base,” said Ferran Soriano, CEO of Manchester City, who will oversee the process of filling top New York City FC leadership positions in the weeks to come. “We are thrilled to contribute to the energy and growth of New York City Soccer. In the Yankees, we have found the absolute best partner for developing a world-class sports organization and a winning team that will carry the New York City Football Club name with pride.”

Since wealthy new owners the Abu Dhabi United Group took over five years ago, Manchester City has gained a place as one of England’s most successful – and ambitious – football clubs. Last spring, Manchester City won the 2012 English Premier League championship.  This year it finished second in the league and was the FA Cup runner-up.

The Yankees and Manchester City have an existing commercial relationship through Legends Hospitality, LLC, an international entertainment, hospitality and marketing organization. Yankee Stadium is hosting Manchester City on Saturday, May 25 for a friendly match against Chelsea FC.

“We are pleased to be associated with this major move by MLS to increase its presence in the New York market and to enhance the opportunity for New York soccer fans to enjoy high-level play in their own city.  We look forward to the opportunity to work with Manchester City to create something very special for the soccer fans of New York – and to bringing another terrific team to this city for all sports fans to enjoy,” said Hal Steinbrenner, managing general partner of the New York Yankees.

“Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees, will be the point person in leading the effort to launch and establish the team on behalf of the organization,” Mr. Steinbrenner added.

With millions of residents watching soccer every week and nearly two million people actively playing the game, MLS sees the New York/New Jersey area as one of North America’s most vibrant soccer communities. The region has filled stadiums for countless marquee soccer events including the 1994 FIFA Men’s World Cup, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, three MLS All-Star Games and numerous international exhibition matches. NYCFC becomes the first MLS club whose home will be located within the five boroughs, joining the Red Bulls as the second MLS club in the metropolitan area.

“Soccer is one of the world’s most exciting and popular sports, and it should be played on the world’s biggest stage – in New York City,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in a statement. “New Yorkers are the greatest sports fans in the world, and they will welcome a Major League Soccer franchise with the full-throated and loyal support they are famous for. Manchester City has a great reputation for both winning teams and serious community investment, and that will help them fit in well with the excellent leadership of New York City’s other professional sports teams.

New York City FC is committed to seeking a new permanent stadium in New York. Until that time, the new team is arranging to play in an interim home beginning in its inaugural MLS season in 2015.

Over the past year, MLS began discussions with the City of New York and other stakeholders about the possibility of constructing a new stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park (FMCP) in Queens. The Club’s new management will continue these discussions with local government officials, community residents and businesses, soccer leagues, and MLS. The club will continue to review other potential sites as well.

“New York City FC will have a permanent home in the city in the great traditions of New York sports and world soccer – a home that must be a sports, commercial and civic success,” Soriano said.  “But in considering any stadium site, we will listen first. This is what we have always done in Manchester and what we will do in New York.  Only in this way, can the club truly represent the city whose name it will carry.”

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