Foul ball: Yankees, city point fingers as Bronx soccer stadium gets sidelined

Both parties accuse the other of reneging on deal in 11th hour, leaving NYCFC homeless

NYC Economic Development Corp. president Rachel Loeb and Yankees president Randy Levine (Getty, EDC, Google Maps)
NYC Economic Development Corp. president Rachel Loeb and Yankees president Randy Levine (Getty, EDC, Google Maps)

A blame game between the city and the Yankees has sidelined a deal to develop a permanent home for Major League Soccer franchise New York City FC.

The Yankees, owners of a minority stake in NYCFC, had linked up with housing developer Maddd Equities in 2018 to propose a $1 billion project that would develop a stadium, retail, affordable housing and a hotel on parking facilities south of Yankee Stadium, where NYCFC has played most of its home games since it debuted in 2015.

Then things fell apart.

The Yankees blame the city. Team president Randy Levine said the Bronx Bombers had been prepared to surrender “substantial legal rights” to make the development a reality.

“The fact that the city reneged on promises they made in writing, over two-term sheets and the parking-facilities agreement, is very disappointing,” Levine told the Wall Street Journal.

The New York City Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit associated with the city, refutes this, instead claiming the Yankees tried to shift the terms of the deal a few days ahead of a community-board vote in the Bronx, the Journal reported.

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Both parties deny the others’ claims, a stalemate that leaves NYCFC, for now, couch surfing through other teams’ stadiums. The club has been searching for a permanent home since 2013, two years before its first game, when it first considered the Yankees’ parking lots.

Because Major League Soccer’s seasons overlap substantially with those of Major League Baseball, NYCFC has been forced to work around the Yankees’ schedule, holding several home games at the stadium of a rival team, the New York Red Bulls, in Harrison, New Jersey.

Felix Palao, a board member of NYCFC fan group Third Rail, said what’s worse than schlepping out to the Garden State for “home games” is the missed economic development opportunity the additional stadium could have brought to the South Bronx.

“People are desperate for jobs and this potentially could have been a powerful economic driver,” Palao told the Journal.

[WSJ] — Suzannah Cavanaugh

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