Welcome to the latest edition of Hot Take, in which a Hudson River Blue contributor takes a highly subjective stand on a topic and gives you their honest, biased opinion.
After a 46-day absence, NYCFC finally returns “home” to face FC Cincinnati inside the New York City limits at Citi Field. Avoiding the unfriendly confines of Red Bull Arena should be cause for celebration, but supporters hoping to travel to Flushing had a last-minute wrench thrown into their plans when the club announced that there would be no parking set aside for them at Citi Field.
Due to the US Open, parking will not be available for tomorrow night's match.— NYCFC Fan Services (@NYCFCHelp) September 6, 2022
NYCFC encourages all fans to come to the game by public transportation where possible #NYCvCIN
⁰For more info ➡️ https://t.co/hPy1dvFjeW pic.twitter.com/FXHsxdd57c
It’s an unusual restriction placed on attending fans, and it represents a sudden shift in policy as the club had informed season ticket holders in a Friday email that limited parking would in fact be available.
The announcement comes as a bit of a head-scratcher for a few reasons. First, the conflict with the US Open can’t have come as a surprise to any of the involved parties, as this fixture has been firmly scheduled for Citi Field since December 2021 when the MLS regular season schedule was released. We’re not talking about a last-minute relocation due to a scheduling conflict at Yankee Stadium — there have been 10 months of time for the club to figure out and clearly communicate the parking situation for this match.
Second, Citi Field’s primary tenant, the New York Mets, also just wrapped a 10-game homestand that was held entirely while the adjacent tennis center was flooded with US Open fans. While the Mets wisely encouraged people to take public transit due to the extra crowds, no similar announcement of parking unavailability was made before any of their games.
What will happen to those who don’t heed the club’s warning and do make the drive to the match? Hudson River Blue learned that they won’t summarily be turned away when their Volt Kits are spotted, or when they’re caught eying Citi Field instead of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Would-be drivers simply have to compete with the hordes of US Open attendees for (expensive) spots in any of the lots near the stadium, as there is no dedicated, guaranteed-for-NYCFC-fans parking set aside.
That kind of dedicated parking space might be worth locking in if NYCFC is going to continue to schedule matches at Citi Field, particularly if they’re going to occur at the same time as the U.S. Open—so I guess the Yankees were onto something after all.
While this messy and confusing situation will only affect what’s likely a small number of car-reliant fans, it’s still the latest in what’s been a year of inconveniences for NYCFC supporters. They’ve seen home matches staged in six different stadiums spread across four states. As previously mentioned, it’s been 46 days since there was a home fixture in the city, and after Cincinnati, there are just the two Yankee Stadium matches next week on the calendar for inside-NYC viewing. Given the ongoing baseball seasons and NYCFC’s drastic drop in form leading to a slide down the Eastern Conference table, the final Hudson River Derby might be it for NYCFC when it comes to playing in one of their preferred city venues in 2022.
Since a mid-June double whammy of rumors about potential plans for matches on Randall’s Island and fresh interest from NYCFC on the Harlem River Yards stadium site in the South Bronx, there’s been nothing but silence around any future NYCFC home stadium plans. Headaches like this Queens parking space one only add to the urgency of the need for big progress in NYCFC’s seemingly endless stadium search.