It’s hard to believe, but New York City FC has not played a single game in their normal home of Yankee Stadium so far in 2020. In the CONCACAF Champions League earlier this year, NYCFC played both their “home” leg games against AD San Carlos and Tigres in New Jersey at Red Bull Arena due to CONCACAF ruling Yankee Stadium to not be fit for intercontinental play. NYCFC were scheduled to play their first game at Yankee Stadium in an MLS meeting against FC Dallas on March 14 prior to the season being suspended due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Since MLS’s return to season play proper in August, NYCFC have been forced to ground share with the New York Red Bulls at RBA due to current regulations stating that the club cannot share Yankee Stadium with the New York Yankees while MLB season is underway.
But as of yesterday, NYCFC’s eventual return to their infamous home field looks bright for the immediate future. In an announcement from the league, the MLB Postseason will be competed in a similar bubble format to the ones we’ve seen the NBA and the MLS use to this point — the latter used a bubble in Orlando, Florida over the summer to accommodate for the MLS is Back return tournament.
The MLB postseason will begin with the Wild Card rounds on September 29, with all qualifying teams being placed in several organized bubbles to limit travel. Both brackets of the NLDS will be played in Arlington, Texas and Houston, Texas while the NLCS will be played solely in Arlington. Meanwhile, the ALDS and ALCS rounds will be played in Southern California in both San Diego and Los Angeles. The best-of-seven World Series will be played solely in Arlington and will begin on October 20.
The 2020 @MLB Postseason will begin with the AL Wild Card Series on Tuesday, 9/29, while Game One of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas will be played on Tuesday, 10/20. pic.twitter.com/KSzWMSAcBk— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) September 15, 2020
Late last week, MLS announced Phase 2 of its season, a series of three matchups per team that would round off the month of September. With the current date of the MLS Cup Final being set at December 12, and with 8 teams from each conference making the actual first round of the tournament, it’s likely that we’ll see the beginning of the MLS Cup Playoffs in early November.
This leaves the month of October, which is currently blank in MLS’s schedule. Should each team’s three Phase 2 games go off without issue much like Phase 1 did, it’s very possible that MLS will have have a third and final phase of the season throughout the thick of the fall in October. And with Yankee Stadium no longer needed by their titular tenants for that month or any month after that until April, the discussion turns to this — can NYCFC use Yankee Stadium in Phase 3 and beyond?
As of right now, the only thing thing keeping Yankee Stadium unavailable to NYCFC — other than the Yankees’ schedule congestion — is the MLB’s policy of not permitting any other sports teams to use MLB stadiums for their games in order to prevent any issues as they pertain to the ongoing pandemic. But with the Yankees not needing YS for any additional games beyond September, I don’t see why NYCFC moving back into their usual confines would be an issue.
Getting Yankee Stadium back would be a huge advantage to NYCFC. Not only are you getting your normal grounds back, but you are getting back one of the most proven home field advantages in MLS. New York City’s odd field dimensions and sight lines have played dividends for the Blues, losing only one game at home all season in 17 matches in 2019, collecting a total of 11 wins and 5 draws. And unlike the MLB, MLS has yet to announce any plans to contain the playoffs inside of a regional bubble which will give teams the opportunity to host must-win playoff games at their own grounds.
If anything can be done to get NYCFC back into the South Bronx where they belong, I say do it! t could be the difference between getting knocked out or lifting the MLS Cup.