New York City Football Club (NYCFC) has made it out of the other side of the desert after wandering through it for a decade.
Mayor Eric Adams officially announced on Wednesday that the MLS side will get a home all its own — a 25,000-seat stadium at the Willets Point site right across the street from Citi Field, home of the Mets.
“This will be New York City’s first soccer-specific stadium,” Adams said. “The first of its kind and a permanent home for the 2021 MLS Cup champion New York City Football Club.”
While the club will foot the $780 million bill for the new venue, it will be the centerpiece of a redeveloped Willets Point area that eliminates dilapidated auto shops, making way for the stadium, a 250-room hotel, 2,500 units of housing, and a school.
It’s certainly a development that hits close to home for Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, who grew up in Flushing.
“When [MLS was] founded 27 years ago, we had a theme: We wanted to be a league for a new America. A country that’s diverse, young, that’s connected with passion, with the global game, with the beautiful game,” Garber said. “Here we are today with the personification of that dream, of that vision that’s been living in cities across America and throughout Canada. Today is one of the most momentous days in the history of our great league.
“For the last 12 years, I’ve been trying to dream of the reality that we have today, which is to have a cathedral for this team, NYCFC.”
NYCFC will make the move from Yankee Stadium — which housed them for the first eight seasons of their existence — where they awkwardly shared space with the Yankees and were often bumped from their home due to other special events scheduled at the Bronx ballpark or because it wasn’t a certified CONCACAF (North America’s governing soccer organization) venue.
In the last year alone, NYCFC played home games at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, and Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ — home of their rival New York Red Bulls. They also played a CONCACAF Champions League match in Los Angeles back in February as the home side because they were opening the MLS season against LAFC and were not allowed to play at Yankee Stadium.
“Our journey in New York had been incomplete. We didn’t have our own home, our own stadium in which to play,” NYCFC vice chairman Marty Edelman said. “[Our fans] would need new GPS coordinates for games week to week in different locations. That incomplete condition ends today… We have come home to Queens. To Willets Point… The journey is over, but it’s just beginning.”