Skip to content

Where will NYCFC play?

Every indication is that the expansion franchise will play in Flushing, Queens.

That would be a very good question indeed. 

Before the official expansion announcement, every indication was that if MLS awarded an expansion franchise to New York City, that team would play in Queens. Specifically, in the Flushing Meadows area, close to where the New York Mets play. Here’s a map showing where it is:


As you can see, Flushing Meadows is in the eastern part of NYC. Any team based there wouldn’t just appeal to NYC residents; potentially, it could also appeal to people living in Long Island. 

This is probably one of the reasons why MLS expended such great effort in its “MLS to Queens” campaign. However, that campaign now looks as if it will be unsuccessful, thanks to strong local opposition. I’ll explore why that opposition seems to have succeeded in foiling Major League Soccer’s bid for a Queens-based stadium later. 

For now, let’s look at some options for where NYCFC can play until the team has a stadium of its own.

While NYCFC will begin playing in March of 2015, that doesn’t mean a stadium will be ready by then. At the earliest, a stadium might be ready by the 2017 season; realistically, given the byzantine politics involved in securing land for a stadium, I wouldn’t expect a stadium to be ready until at least 2019 or so. 

Yankee Stadium (capacity: 54,251)


(image credit: Shinya Suzuki, Flickr/Creative Commons)

This is the most likely option, especially since the Yankees own 20% of the team. Yankee Stadium has hosted a few soccer games in recent years, and while taking corner kicks can be a little tight, a 110 yard by 70 yard pitch fits perfectly in the middle, as the picture above shows. 

It also wouldn’t be the first time that a MLS team shared a venue with a MLB team. DC United and the Washington Nationals shared RFK Stadium between 2005 and 2007, before Nationals Park was completed. The difference there, obviously, was that RFK Stadium was conceived as a multi-sport stadium, which Yankee Stadium is most definitely not. 

This brings up two hard questions:

  • How will the field hold up?
  • How will scheduling work?

The Yankees will be playing 81 games; I’d expect NYCFC to play between 17 or 18 games at home, depending on how the schedule gets drawn up. That’s a lot of games on a field that really isn’t designed for that many, particularly in two different sports.

That said, Yankee Stadium might be better than the other option that would realistically come into play.

Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium (capacity: 17,000)


(image courtesy Columbia University Athletics/Mike McCaughlin)

This is Columbia University’s football stadium. At first glance, the capacity seems ideal for an MLS team; while on the small side, it’s easy to think of this place being packed, rocking out to a winning MLS team. It’s located north of Yankee Stadium, and it is easily accessible by public transportation. So what’s not to like?

Start by looking at the picture above. It uses an artificial turf field, it is lined for multiple sports, and is surrounded by a track — all things that would make an MLS front office, particularly one backed by City and the Yankees, go absolutely mental. A professional team playing here would scream minor-league, which is exactly the image the league is trying to avoid. 

In the next post, I’ll look at why some other options — particularly Citi Field — aren’t in play.