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Jon Patricof: NYCFC stadium will most likely be in the Bronx or Queens; nobody wants Belmont

The club President, speaking directly to season ticket holders in the wake of “Hartfordgate,” didn’t rule out a stadium deal getting done before the end of this year.

Advertising Week New York 2016 - Day 4
Patricof in September 2016
Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York

Did you write a strongly-worded email to your New York City FC season ticket account representative following last week’s announcement? You know, the one about the September 23rd home match against Houston moving to East Hartford thanks to a scheduling conflict with the Yankees?

If so, you may have been invited to a private breakfast with NYCFC President Jon Patricof with a handful of other City Members.

Patricof has hosted a couple of these meetups in the last week, fielding both questions and grievances from increasingly concerned supporters. We spoke with an individual present at Tuesday’s breakfast, who chose not to be identified, to get a sense of what was discussed, particularly in the way of NYCFC’s ongoing stadium saga.

Spoiler alert: everybody hates Belmont.

Heart to Hartford

NCAA Football: Villanova at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re mad about playing a home game 110 miles away in Connecticut at a college football stadium, you may want to blame the Yankees— but how about Patrick Vieira? Patricof shared that the gaffer insisted on playing on a grass surface, which left two options for the Houston game: Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford... and Red Bull Arena.

The optics of playing a home game on turf would be awful, as would playing in our rival’s house. That left one option.

Start the Countdown

Patricof noted that the best-case scenario sees a new stadium ready to go three years after a deal gets done on a piece of land.

He also said that the club is closer to a deal than most of the public might think, and that there’s a realistic chance that an announcement comes before the end of the calendar year.

Generally, the president said that fans should expect an operational soccer-specific stadium four to five years from today. ARE YOU READY FOR THE COMBINATION GRAND OPENING/DAVID VILLA 40TH BIRTHDAY PARTY???

The Big Picture

Kevin Garnett wasn’t lying when he said that anything is possible, and when it comes to the NYCFC Stadium Saga, the club’s front office would tend to agree. But when the subject turned to recent stories about a potential bid for the Belmont site on the Queens-Nassau County border, Patricof told Tuesday’s guests two important things:

  • Nobody is all that interested in making Belmont a reality. A bid would have to be made very, very soon, and City Football Group is unlikely to submit one at all.
  • Patricof thinks that the edge of the edge of the edge of Queens is too far away for a permanent home.
Yankee Stadium to Belmont: over 13 miles as the crow flies.
Google Maps

Well, where does that leave us? They’ve got to build this thing somewhere.

On that note, the president said that while plenty of locations have been generally vetted, there are three spots currently under legitimate consideration, and that if a deal does get done by the end of the year, it will likely be in Queens or the Bronx.

What it Means

There’s no reason to assume that Patricof, one of the foremost public faces of NYCFC, is spinning our wheels. These breakfasts with City Members are clearly part of a direct effort to ease tensions and provide transparency in the wake of the universally-panned Hartford announcement. At the same time, there are so many moving parts to the process behind nailing down a stadium deal that details that may be true enough today can become outdated in a few weeks’ time.

But as it stands, there are reasons for hope in the closing months of 2017, even if the odds are against pretty much any player on the current New York City roster having a chance at playing in a real soccer-specific home.

So, whether the GAL facility in the South Bronx is suddenly back in play, or the Fresh Direct site in Long Island City, or good ol’ Elmhurst, or Willets Point (DON’T SLEEP ON WILLETS POINT), or a location not previously bandied about, it’s safe to say that we’re closer than we’ve ever been to having something massive to cheer about. Whether we’re a couple months away or six or nine remains to be seen. But the club president wouldn’t be speaking so frankly about these things to those who care the most — the season ticket holders who signed on for this grand experiment before the club had even signed enough players to field a team — without good reason.