New York City sure is the city that never sleeps — its soccer fans are planning a 24-hour game at Rockefeller Center this March.
The New York City Football Club (NYCFC) is running the soccer marathon, from March 9 at 4 p.m. to March 10 at 4 p.m., with plans to give more than 500 New Yorkers the chance to play on the Plaza (where the tree usually sits), the team announced in a press release.
“We wanted to kick the season with an iconic event at a city and global landmark,” NYCFC president Jon Patricof told amNewYork. “The essence of the club is all about the fans and the community. What we’re hoping is that people come out [to the event] and get a taste of that.”
The five-on-five game will switch out participants every 30 minutes during two 12-hour halves and will break for a halftime celebration.
Registration for the event sold out within the first hour, and more than 600 fans are on the wait list, according to the club.
While pre-booked spots have been filled, you can still register at 24hrgame.nyc or turn up on the day of for a chance to play if there are no-shows.
Players will be divided into two competing teams — Team Vieira (representing NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira) and Team Villa (representing NYCFC team captain, David Villa). Both Vieira and Villa will coach the game at the start, and a number of past and present NYCFC players, including Ronald Matarrita, Rodney Wallace, Anton Tinnerholm, Tommy McNamara and Alex Ring, will make appearances throughout the 24-hour game.
“Soccer is great because it brings people together, and you can play in any space,” Villa said in a statement ahead of the event. “It will be amazing to play with so many people in the middle of Manhattan, which I am proud to call my new home. By the end of the game, it is going to be a very high score, and I hope my team finishes on top.”
Those who don’t play but want to hang out and watch the game can also dance to music by a DJ, pose in a photo booth and have a chance to meet NYCFC players.
The club will also be collecting donations to support City in the Community, its nonprofit foundation that “uses the power of soccer to promote health, education and leadership development and safe spaces throughout the five boroughs.” According to NYCFC officials, this weekend’s event will mark the start of a season-long campaign to foster the club’s connection with the city’s soccer fans.
“I can’t think of a more exciting way to start our new season,” Villa said. “I can’t wait to see a soccer pitch at Rockefeller Center.”
The football club’s season begins March 11 at Yankee Stadium with a game against the LA Galaxy.
After having its proposal for a 26,000-seat stadium near Belmont Park racetrack on Long Island rejected by Empire State Development in December, Patricof said NYCFC is “committed to having a home in the five boroughs” and is in “active discussions” on a number of sites. For now, Yankee Stadium remains the club’s home.