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Apr 21, 2014

Yankee Stadium to host NYC FC

New York City FC, the Major League Soccer club set to debut in 2015, will play its first season at Yankee Stadium, the club said during a news conference on Monday.

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An artist's rendering of Yankee Stadium's pitch for hosting NYC FC.

"There is no better place for New York City FC to kick off our historic first season in MLS and we look forward to hosting soccer fans across all five boroughs, and beyond at Yankee Stadium next year," NYCFC chief business officer Tim Pernetti said via statement.

The new club, MLS' 20th team, was formed in 2013 with a $100 million investment from Manchester City and the New York Yankees.

The new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009, had been under consideration as the club's interim venue while MLS negotiated with New York to build a stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, near the home of the New York Mets. Those talks have stalled, the New York Times reported last week.

Yankee Stadium has hosted several football friendlies over the past two years. The original Yankee Stadium was the home of the North American Soccer League's New York Cosmos in 1976.

Yankees president Randy Levine, told the New York Times last August that the team was in talks over a nine-acre parcel between the Major Deegan Expressway and East 153rd Street that could accommodate a 25,000-to-30,000-seat stadium with connections to subways and rail lines.

Yankees chief operation officer Lonn A. Trost said on Monday that for MLS matches the stadium will be downsized from its current 49,642 seats to 33,444 seats and the field will be 110 yards by 70 yards. Removal and replacement of the pitcher's mound will take one day, Lott said, adding that the complete stadium switch from baseball to soccer, and vice versa, will take three days.

"Three days is important based on weather," Trost said. "We are analyzing that when it comes to the schedule. We will work out the schedule. We have done it before. We've tested it against existing schedules. We will be working with the club and MLS to make certain that the games will not get in the way of our regular [Yankees] schedule."

Trost also said Yankee Stadium groundskeepers are researching what NFL teams do for solutions on greens preservation.

"The field itself is always a concern," Trost said. "We will be experimenting with what Green Bay uses: They have glow lights. Yes, the field today is being used more than it ever has, which is a concern, but we believe that we can grow grass at night."

Club officials would not say whether play would continue there beyond the 2015 season.

"We're not putting any timetables on it," Levine said, but added that the search continues for a permanent solution.

"It’s been no secret that our plans all along are to do a deal to build a soccer-specific stadium within the five boroughs," Pernetti said. "We are continuing to do that. We’re conducting the same thorough search and developing our plans. Our goal is to be in a soccer-specific building as soon as possible. We’re going to take our time to get it right."

"When we open the doors to a soccer-specific stadium in this city, it will be spectacular," he added.

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