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NYCFC move Orlando City game from Citi Field to Red Bull Arena

MLB schedule changes forces stadium-less NYCFC to play in New Jersey

NYCFC fans are the best, but not many turn out at Red Bull Arena.
Photograph by Katie Cahalin, courtesy NYCF.com

It’s one thing to couch-surf when you move to a new city — there’s no shame in crashing with friends, or friends-of-friends, while you get settled. But it's another thing when you’re still doing it eight years after moving to town. By now, you should have figured things out.

Earlier today, New York City FC announced that the Orlando City SC game originally scheduled for Saturday, October 1 at Citi Field will now take place on Sunday, October 2 at Red Bull Arena. The game was moved to accommodate the schedule of the New York Mets after the MLB lockout forced a late start to the season.

Earlier, we reported that the MLB lockout wouldn’t change NYCFC’s schedule. Looks like we need to walk that one back.

This is the second MLS game this season that NYCFC moved from Citi Field to Red Bull Arena, home to cross-river rivals New Jersey Red Bulls. Red Bull Arena might be an excellent soccer-specific stadium, but the “home” games played there are extremely unpopular with NYCFC fans forced to travel out of the city and across state lines to watch their team. When NYCFC hosted Seattle Sounders at Red Bull Arena in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals, the announced attendance was just 6,413 — that’s what you expect at a preseason warmup, not a knockout game in a high-stakes international tournament.

Such is the plight of NYCFC, one of the shrinking minority of teams in MLS that don't have their own soccer-specific stadium—and the only club in the league that play most of their games on a baseball diamond, and work around the schedules of two MLB teams. NYCFC’s stadium saga dates back to the founding of the club in 2013, when promises were made – but never kept – about a state-of-the-art facility that would be built within the Five Boroughs.

The news of the game change arrives at a particularly salient moment.

Just yesterday, Inter Miami FC, which joined MLS in 2020 and currently play in DRV PNK Stadium, an 18,000-seat soccer-specific facility in Ft. Lauderdale, announced their proposal to build the 25,000-seat Miami Freedom Park was approved by the Miami City Commission. DRV PNK Stadium will become the Inter Miami training facility.

This Sunday, Nashville SC will play their first game at the 30,000-seat GEODIS Park—the largest soccer-specific stadium in the United States and Canada. Nashville also began league play in 2020.

Gorgeous stadium. Well done, Nashville.

To add some salt to this stadium-sized wound, we’ll remind you that Orlando joined MLS the same year as NYCFC, and inaugurated the 25,500-seat Explora Stadium at the home opener for the 2017 season.