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Report: Does NYCFC paper trail lead to Bronx stadium?

The Outfield publishes fresh details on Harlem River Yards site, sets up New York City fans for more disappointment

If you build it...
Courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects

Here we go again.

Early this morning, The Outfield published a story that connects New York City FC with a proposal to build a soccer-specific stadium at Harlem River Yards, the 28-acre site in the South Bronx slated for mixed-use development. Author Chris Campbell hunted down some tantalizing details for the article, but before we get to what he uncovered let’s sketch out NYCFC’s relationship top the site.

Harlem River Yards will be familiar to NYCFC fans who follow the club’s stadium saga: Back in 2018, City Football Group and the developers sought to include a 26,000-seat soccer-specific stadium as a part of the $700 million “mega-project.” A short time later the project was reportedly dropped, and the focus shifted to a different location in the South Bronx known as GAL, named for the factory it would displace. That proposal was scuttled in spectacular fashion last summer by a Yankees front office whose 20% stake in NYCFC bought them a seat at the table, and whose pathological need to gain leverage at any opportunity (in this case, the Yankees demanded parking spaces they were promised years earlier but didn’t need or would ever use), allowed them to both insult the community and torpedo a project that was inches away from moving to the next stage.

Since then, NYCFC have dropped encouraging hints about a forthcoming stadium without actually committing to anything of substance. There was the exclusive interview cub president and CEO Brad Sims gave to Hudson River Blue last November, and the vague but hopeful statement he made at the City Hall rally in December. This past May, Sam Stejskal of The Athletic tweeted that the Bronx proposals were dead, but a site in Queens was a possibility.

Around that time, a number of medium-sized local companies with ties to construction and development became Associate Partners of NYCFC, sponsoring pitch-side advertising and game-day photo galleries. We chronicled the deliciously suspicious partnerships in Hudson River Blue, and while all the evidence we uncovered was circumstantial, it’s hard not to jump to conclusions when an official NYCFC account tweets “DnA are recognized throughout the New York City development and construction industries for excellence in performing design, special inspection and material testing. #NYCFC #NYC”

That brings us to Chris Campbell’s piece in The Outfield. Through careful sleuthing, Campbell established that “City Football Group has recently completed a memorandum of understanding with the New York State Department of Transportation to lease the Harlem River Yards location, and revive a 5-year-old proposal to include the construction of a 26,000-seat stadium amidst other development.”

There’s more, but we’re not going to steal The Outfield’s thunder: Read the piece for yourself.

One thing is for sure — we won’t hear anything from the NYCFC front office until the papers are signed and the ink is dry. New York City are arguably the most tight-lipped and disciplined club in MLS, a leak-proof organization that refuses to trade in rumors and innuendo.

You have to respect that, but it’s hard to sit on your hands when information like this comes to light.