By Paul Kennedy
It will take an Edwin Moses-type to cleanly clear all the hurdles that lie ahead for New York City FC and Miami Beckham United, the corporate name for David Beckham's Miami group (and hopefully not the name for the team itself), but there are signs of progress on the MLS stadium front in New York, where NYCFC will join MLS as its 21st team in 2015, and Miami, whereBeckham hopes to land MLS's 22nd team with his expansion option.
Few stadium projects are ever going to go as smoothly as Orlando City's successful effort to win local government support for a downtown stadium that was followed a month later by the announcement that the USL PRO club will join MLS as its 21st team in 2015.
One only needs to look at the New York situation, where after several years of work and millions spent on the project for a soccer stadium in Queens, NYCFC has its sights on a stadium in ... The Bronx.
The New York Post reported Tuesday night that NYCFC was “very, very close” on a deal for a 28,000-seat stadium just south of Yankee Stadium. The price tag is $400 million, which would make it most expensive soccer-specific stadium an MLS club has ever built.
The opening would not take place until 2018 or 2019, meaning NYCFC would be in Yankee Stadium for several years.
The stadium that MLS explored for Flushing Meadows met with opposition from local groups, but an overriding factor in halting the Queens project was to allow NYCFC's owners -- Manchester City and the New York Yankees -- to do their own deal.
The site for the proposed stadium is near Yankee Stadium. Indeed, part of the nine-acre parcel between the Major Deegan Expressway and East 153rd Street is the site of a parking garage used for Yankees games. NYCFC would also have to pay for the relocation of GAL Manufacturing Corporation, an elevator parts company currently located on East 153rd Street, to a new location in The Bronx.
According to the Post, the project has the support of outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg -- who has been a big supporter of a New York soccer stadium -- and will need the blessing of new mayor Bill de Blasio. City bonds would be used to help pay for the stadium.
In his state of the league address, MLS commissioner Don Garber said that there will be no Miami team until there is a long-term Miami stadium solution -- specifically a stadium solution that involves an urban location.
The first step is finding a site for a stadium, and the Miami Herald reported Wednesday that the Miami-Dade County Commission will vote Tuesday to authorize Mayor Carlos Gimenez to identify possible stadium sites.
Beckham's group is looking at the southwest corner of Dodge Island, home to PortMiami, as the site for the club's permanent soccer stadium. The PortMiami site is owned by Dade County, which would require Beckham's group to reach a lease agreement with the county.
CAVALRY CALLED OFF UNTIL 2015.Not all stadium projects get off the ground quickly. Nor do they all go smoothly once ground was broken.
Virginia Cavalry FC will delay its entry into NASL until 2015 because of delays in the new, 5,500-seat stadium in Loudoun County, Edelman Financial Field, that also forced the Atlantic League independent baseball league to announce its 2014 schedule without the Hounds, who are owned by VIP Sports & Entertainment, like Cavalry FC, and are to share the stadium with the NASL club.
The Loudoun County club had originally planned on playing in a temporary home in 2014 -- George Mason's soccer stadium was considered -- but according to Joe Travez, Cavalry FC’s principal owner, “having exhausted numerous alternative Northern Virginia venues, it is best for the team and the League to wait one more year to begin play. This was a difficult decision, but we owe it to our fans and our club’s future to start in as strong a position possible. You only have one time to make a first impression.”
The Cavalry was to be one of three NASL expansion teams along with Indy Eleven and the Ottawa Fury in 2014.
The Fury has had stadium delays of its own and will play at Keith Harris Stadium at Carleton University during the 2014 spring season while the stadium at Lansdowne Park (a venue for the 2015 Women's World Cup) is finished.
NASL commissioner Bill Peterson told Soccer America recently that there would be no repeat of 2013 when the New York Cosmos joined the NASL in the middle of the season (or the Puerto Rico Islanders planned on sitting out the spring season until they withdrew entirely from the league for 2013).
The NASL will go ahead with 10 teams for 2014 and 13 for 2015 with the addition of teams in Jacksonville and Oklahoma City, in addition to Cavalry FC.
RECORD DRAW VIEWERS. The World Cup Final Draw averaged 489,000 viewers on ESPN2, making it the most-watched draw ever on the ESPN networks, up 34 percent over the previous high for the 1994 World Cup draw held in Las Vegas.
Top five markets:
Las Vegas (1.2)
Live ESPN2 coverage on WatchESPN and the world feed on ESPN3 generated 189,500 unique viewers, making it the most-watched live event on WatchESPN on Friday.
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