by Scott Marsh in New York City
This week the MLS announced plans for its 20th franchise.
The long discussed rumblings of a second NY area team came true as Don Garber announced the birth of NYCFC. The addition of a second NY Area team, was always rumored, but with the recent struggles in Los Angeles, with one tenant of the Home Depot center struggling to fill seats compared to its championship laden neighbor, the comparisons and questions arose quickly.
How can the NY area support a second team, when the NY Red Bulls, complete with a 200 million dollar stadium can’t even come close to selling out a 24,000 seat stadium? How can the MLS pass up hopeful markets like Orlando & St Louis to roll the dice again in NY?
The answer? NYCFC might be closer to a sure thing than a gamble…Here’s why:
The NY/NJ Metrostars routinely played in front of embarrassing crowds at the old Giants stadium. Being the third tenant in the building, they often were forced to play at unusual times and dates to accommodate the higher profile Giants and Jets. But even with all of those issues, the Metrostars had a loyal fan base, albeit a small one.
Then came the Red Bull rumors. The Fan boards went crazy. Fans did in depth research into Red Bulls’ last soccer takeover in Salzburg.
Wiping the club’s history from existence and replacing it with “Red Bull Swagger”, the fans revolted and Salzburg was clearly a club divided for years. Much anger still exists in the Salzburg soccer community and Metrostars fans were afraid of history repeating itself.
Fans submitted mock uniform ideas, hoping to keep some semblance of the black and red vertical stripes that Metrostars fans grew to love, offered team names hoping to save their history. But as the rumors of a Red bull takeover grew louder, the fan base became more upset and more distant.
Then the moment came, the iconic image of Alexi Lalas holding a can of Red Bull and promising soccer stardom flashed across the NY airwaves…Metrostars were gone, Red Bull New York was born.
Fast forward seven years and the Red Bulls find themselves with similar problems of their predecessors.
Although the stadium situation has been upgraded enormously. They still have not won any significant domestic hardware, they still struggle to fill the seats, and outside of the soccer community, the NY Red Bulls are virtually unknown.
NYCFC, in my opinion has a much brighter future than their rivals across the river.
Ask anyone who follows soccer in the NY area. After the initial swarm of media attention and advertisements following the rebranding, the NY Red Bulls advertising has been modest at best. I can guarantee this won’t happen with NYCFC.
First of all NYCFC has had the benefit of watching seven years of failed marketing attempts provided by the Red Bulls. Not only that, but NYCFC has the immediate street cred of one of the worlds biggest sports brands ever assembled, the New York Yankees. The Yankees are a media machine.
Think of your average Yankee game bringing in 30,000 fans over an 81 game home schedule. You can guarantee that you will see NYCFC advertising in Yankee stadium, in Yankee publications. There’s also the high probability that NYCFC will have an instant TV deal with the Yankees own YES network.
Just by using their network and stadium resources alone, NYCFC has the potential to explode on the New York sports scene in ways that Red Bull could only dream about.
Think of the possibilities. NYCFC gear being sold at the Yankee stadium clubhouse store. Yankee pocket schedules with a NYCFC ad on the back, stadium advertising, YES advertising. This can all be done without the Yankees actually spending a dime.
Not only will NYCFC have the cache of the Yankees behind it, but also the Street Cred in the soccer community of Manchester City FC, and its billionaire owner. The club has already hinted at player movement between the clubs. You can bet they will train together at some point in England, with Man City sure to make several trips abroad for friendlies.
So NYCFC starts off, before even playing a game with the one of the biggest names in US Sports in one back pocket, and one of the biggest English Football clubs in the other.
NYCFC will be a success. I have no doubt in my mind at all. If I were a Red Bull fan though, I would be seriously worried that the first significant domestic silverware in the NY Area won’t be displayed in Harrison NJ.