Don Garber: “I’m confident they’ll get a solution to what has been a three- or four-year process of finding a stadium location.” (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
ATLANTA — Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber Friday expressed confidence and optimism that New York City FC will build a stadium in the city even if it is later than sooner.
The club is continuing to search for a proper ground in the city after recently completing its fourth consecutive season at Yankee Stadium.
Garber stressed that patience was in order as he cited the example of D.C. United’s multi-year search for the right stadium in the nation’s capital. United moved into Audi Field after playing 22 years at RFK Stadium as the team owners combed the city for the right site.
“I’ll start by saying that we’re in the live content business because what happens right now matters and that’s how we manage a certain aspect of the business,” he said at his annual state of the game speech at the Westin Peachtree Hotel. “The rest of our entire approach has been about the long term. Having gone to the opening of Audi Field and gone to other games there and knowing how long it took for us to get that stadium built it was one of the more painful processes that we as a league had to go through.
“But here we are today with an unbelievable stadium in an area of town that if we thought about building a soccer stadium, maybe four or five or 10 years ago, we wouldn’t be in the fastest growing and the most hip and relevant part of Washington, D.C.”
If NYCFC identified a stadium site somewhere in the five boroughs today, it probably would take at least two years, if not at least three years, to build a soccer ground.
“So, this is a long game when it comes to that,” Garber added. “That being said, it isn’t always an easy game when you have a facility challenge. The New York City team is popular. The owners of the club are very focused. It’s a great brand. It has had great success on the field. They’re averaging [more than] 20,000 fans a game.
“I’m confident they’ll get a solution to what has been a three- or four-year process of finding a stadium location. Nothing to announce here soon but I can assure you that you’ll be at your 30th MLS Cup and I’ll in the stands watching or watching on TV. And at some point and everyone will look at New York and Boston, by the way, and have a soccer stadium that will be able to host great matches.”
Note: The author has attended all 22 MLS Cups to date and is planning to cover Sunday’s match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.