It might be hard to believe these days, but New York City FC was once extremely close to building a stadium of their own before they even entered Major League Soccer. In December of 2013, NYCFC and Mayor Michael Bloomberg had all but come to terms on a deal for a stadium adjacent to Yankee Stadium — the old GAL Factory plan — a project then estimated to be around $350 million. While the Boys in Blue would still be required to play at Yankee Stadium for a few seasons, but a stadium would’ve likely been up by 2017 or 2018.
Unfortunately, it never happened. In just his first month as New York City’s mayor, Bill De Blasio and his administration completely killed NYCFC’s Bronx deal. Since then, it’s been a very stop-start process. NYCFC saw potential plans for a stadium in Inwood and Belmont get shot down, while searches in Queens came up empty. The Hudson River Yards in the South Bronx briefly was a place of interest, before it was clarified by then-team president Jon Patricoff that the site was not “active.”
In 2021, NYCFC’s dream for a stadium site within New York City seemed to be on the cusp of realization. It had come back to where it all began — the GAL Factory, blocks away from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. New York Yankees president Randy Levine gave the deal 1-2 months for confirmation. All that was left was for the community board to approve the proposal.
Then, the rug was yanked out from underneath everybody. Practically overnight, a deal thought to be a slam dunk was turned down by city officials. Since then, the two parties have pointed fingers at each other as the reason for the deal’s deterioration.
According to the city, the Yankees and Maddd Equities — the two most prominent figures of the stadium deal negotiations on behalf of NYCFC — had inserted deceptive language into the deal pertaining to… parking spaces. Yup. Meanwhile, Levine has since shot back at this accusation, saying that De Blasio’s team killed an important $1 billion, privately funded investment into one of New York’s poorest cities per capita. Reports were fervent with speculation, with some calling the South Bronx stadium deal “dead” and that NYCFC had shifted their focus over to other boroughs such as Queens for a stadium site.
But things have changed since then. In what was the fifth most-viewed game in the league’s history, NYCFC defeated the Portland Timbers in penalties, winning their first league
De Blasio leaves the mayor’s office in January, and mayor-elect Eric Adams will take over. And already, the former Brooklyn borough president and NYPD captain has given hope to City’s fanbase about their precarious stadium situation.
In a report done by Rich Calder of the New York Post, Adams has said that his administration is all ears regarding NYCFC’s stadium search. “With their first-ever MLS Cup victory this year, NYCFC did our city proud, and gave all New Yorkers reason for hope,” Adams said. “My administration will re-engage in discussions to explore the possibility of siting a new soccer stadium to serve as a permanent home for the team.”
For City fans, that should be to their ears. Unlike De Blasio, who showed hostility towards City’s original stadium plan and failed to really engage the team in that regard throughout his tenure as mayor, Adams has come out and said that he’s interested in getting a deal done.
Randy Levine seems to feel the same way.
“It was very disappointing that Mayor de Blasio’s team at the last minute walked away from a deal that would have provided $1 billion in private investment in one of the poorest communities in the city,” Levine told Calder. “We are … very encouraged by Mayor-elect Adams, who gets the importance of bringing real private investment into these communities, and who seems genuinely committed to creating jobs in this city when they are really needed.”
Politicians lie a lot, or otherwise over-promise things — that cannot be debated or debunked. And it’s very possible that Adams is turning the wheels of NYCFC fans to prevent any kind of blowback before he’s even in the Mayorial chair. But at this point, if you want NYCFC to have a stadium soon and cease being the nomads of MLS, hope is really all you have.
Hopefully, these discussions can resume quickly. And who knows — maybe by the summer, City fans will finally have what they’ve been craving for the past eight years.