Two of the MLS expansion teams — New York City Football Club and Miami Football Club — exemplify the efforts of new franchises to make sure the team and its stadium become truly a part of the city. Both NYCFC and Miami FC have undertaken major marketing campaigns to rally their respective city fan bases, but the primary way they intend to do so is by creating soccer-specific stadiums within the metropolitan area. In both New York and Miami, that is easier said than done.
If NYCFC gets its wish it will have the only soccer-specific stadium in the city. The venue will be a 25,000-30,000 capacity stadium with connections to rail and subway lines, and the capability to add more seating as the franchise grows. There has been significant press about building the NYCFC stadium near Yankee stadium, but Mayor de Blasio is far less enthusiastic than Mayor Bloomberg about offering $250 million in tax-exempt bonds and $21.5 million in sales and mortgage-recording tax breaks. Also, the Bronx site could leave New York $240 million in debt because its demolition would cause the bankruptcy of the Bronx Parking Development Company. Despite the controversy over land, NYCFC will eventually find a permanent stadium with the Yankee’s financing $25 million to the team itself and Manchester City FC ownership willing to spend $90 million to replace lost parkland and fields. Not long ago it was announced NYCFC had signed a three-year contract with Yankee Stadium to host games starting in 2015 while long term stadium discussions continue.
Miami FC is facing similar issues with determining the location of their stadium. Unlike NYCFC, which may be publicly financed, David Beckham and his associates plan to spend $250 million on the new stadium in the Port of Miami. The Miami Seaport Alliance has claimed it would create congestion in the port and is part of a “secret agenda” by the group to develop the area into a major commercial hub, because it is one of the last few areas open for development in the port. Miami FC has countered by stating that the stadium would be a mile away from the port and hold after-business hours, primarily on Saturday evenings. However, the Alliance’s commitment to Miami has come under question with one member, Royal Caribbean, already moving ships to Port Everglades. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has proposed another site in the port, that includes filling in the boat slip between Museum Park and American Airlines Arena. However, the financial viability of the site has been questioned because the water has to be drained and filled with 400,000 cubic yards of material. Despite the $10 to $15 million price tag and bureaucratic gymnastics (the land is owned by the city so the sale has to be voted on), the site could be valued at $42.7 million without any further development.
In Miami, ownership and fans will remain tense until ground is broken, because it has hosted four failed teams since 1972, each of which have lasted just over 5 years. Miami can succeed, but they cannot listen to those like Jon Fox, a Royal Caribbean lobbyist, who believes the MLS does not have a high enough profile to merit a downtown location. Manchester City FC CEO, Farran Soriano, sums up both situations best, stating “this is not about finding a stadium, it’s about finding a home…We’re looking for a home that will be successful from a football standpoint, the commercial standpoint, but also the community standpoint.”