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The New York Post
The Yankees officially announced that New York City Football Club - the MLS expansion team they co-own with Manchester City - will play its 2015 debut season at Yankee Stadium. That's no surprise, as it was widely expected and reported last week. Now comes the hard part: making it all work.
The MLS season starts in early March and runs through late October, concurrent with the baseball season. But when asked if Major League Baseball had any concerns about playing 17 MLS games during the season, Yankees president Randy Levine gave a denial that was as blunt as it was categorical.
"No,'' said Levine. "They think we know what we're doing. They know we know what we're doing.''
Levine has repeatedly pointed to the international soccer friendlies and college football games hosted by the Yankees as proof the stadium can handle the usage, and it was actually done at the old Stadium. The New York Generals and Skyliners combined to play 24 games there in 1967, the Generals logged 16 games there the next year, and the New York Cosmos played the 1971 and 1976 NASL seasons there.
But this may be far more laborious, taking three days to convert from baseball to soccer and vice versa, even having to remove the pitcher's mound and store it. San Francisco's AT&T Park has a pitcher's mound made of compressed clay piled on top of steel plates that can be removed in six pieces with the mound intact and stored.
Asked if he would have been worried pitching off a mound that was repeatedly removed and restored, ex-Yankee closer Mariano Rivera insisted he wouldn't.
"Not really. I don't think we have to worry about that. We know what we're doing. We've been there before, so I don't worry at all. I'd just be ready to pitch,'' said Rivera, NYCFC's first season-ticket holder. "I'm proud to be the first. I used to be the closer, always the last one. I'm the starter now so I'm happy to be No. 1 I always say soccer was and is still my No. 1. Baseball just got in-between.''
The field will be a narrow but FIFA-compliant 110x70 yards, surrounded by LED lights. They will use the Stadium Grow Lighting popularized by the Green Bay Packers to allow the grass to grow at night. And on MLS gamedays the grandstand and terrace levels will be closed off, reducing the stadium's baseball capacity of 49,642 to 33,444.
"This will be the first MLS season in New York City,'' said Tim Pernetti, NYCFC's chief business officer. But he wouldn't confirm reports the team would be in the Stadium for three years, and wouldn't be pinned down on a timetable for finding and constructing a permanent home.
"We're going to build a soccer specific stadium in New York City. We're going to take whatever time is necessary to get it right. The beauty of building a franchise is people are excited, fans are pumped up, like this is a movie premiere in New York City. It's coming in 2015. That's happening one way or the other. We're going to feed off that excitement.''