Is New York City FC’s stay at Yankee Stadium really an insult to football? | FC New York City English Soccer

Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten, from the Battery to the top of Manhattan, New York City FC has long sought a permanent home within the five boroughs, but has so far struggled to find it.

Since joining Major League Soccer in 2015, NYC FC has played the majority of its home games at Bronx-based Yankee Stadium, home of Major League Baseball’s Yankees, whose owners, Yankee Global Enterprises, also have a 20% stake in the football club. It was supposed to be a temporary measure while NYC FC looked for a permanent soccer-specific home site, but eight seasons later the club is still there, playing on a baseball field.

And it still looks like a stopgap. The search for a site to develop a new facility continues, but there have been obstacles at every turn. Many see the situation as an embarrassment for the club and, indeed, for MLS. But many NYC FC fans genuinely enjoy the elements of the Yankee Stadium experience, especially the supporter sections.

The Guardian spoke to a number of NYC FC fans, online and in person, who are interested in Yankee Stadium. For many, it’s simply easier to get to than other places the team has played: Yankee Stadium can be reached by several subway lines, and it’s close to the Metro North line for fans coming into the city. And the fact that the team has been in the area for several years means that many of its most loyal fans live nearby (the Bronx also has the highest proportion of Hispanics among New York’s five boroughs, a demographic with a strong presence in football). Next). Moving elsewhere would mean a longer journey for many of the club’s fans.

Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets in Queens, has been a secondary venue for NYC FC in recent years. Many enjoy watching the games there, but those who are part of a fan base tend to prefer Yankee Stadium as the stands are an ideal place to congregate behind the goal.

“Yankee Stadium looks much worse on TV than it does in person, in my opinion, and I love my seats there in section 135 below the fan section,” says Björn Bellenbaum, a NYC FC fan from Brooklyn. “I take my kids to the games, they’re teenagers now, but for the first couple of years standing/general admission wasn’t really an option. But we get into it, so we like to be close to the fan section so that seating area under the stands is perfect and obviously it wouldn’t exist that way in a football stadium.”

Yankee Stadium contains rowdy sections of NYC FC fans. Photograph: Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports

For those fans watching on television, the main camera angle at Yankee Stadium is often criticized for being too low and far away. But it still shows a clear view of the action, just different from the slightly more top-down style common in other stadiums. There’s also a tactical camera view from behind one of the goals which is unique and useful (at least for those interested in that sort of thing).

There have been other complaints that the area farthest from the football field, behind home plate and not too different from the television angle (and, by the way, where the press box is), is also too away from the action. But watch a game from this vantage point in person and it’s a better view than other well-known stadiums around the world, some of which have a running track between the stands and the field, or even obstructed views.

Then there is the issue of small pitch dimensions, but this can also be a positive if players have the technique to shine in tight spaces, and is potentially ideal for tight defensive structures and counter pressure. NYC FC doesn’t lose too many games at Yankee Stadium, perhaps because visiting teams aren’t used to playing in such a restricted environment. The only visiting team to win there this season is the Philadelphia Union, which specializes in tight defense and high pressure. Plus, recent results suggest that NYC FC players can’t hate playing at Yankee Stadium too much: they are the reigning MLS champions, after all.

Some of the criticism from those who are not fans of NYC FC can feel like a case of first world problems. Yankee Stadium does not fit the perception of what a football-watching experience usually is, for which it is criticized. Unorthodox does not mean bad. Some of the best stadiums and atmospheres in world football will have an element of awkwardness or awkwardness, but this is often what gives these sports theaters their unique character.

Perhaps there is a lesson here, too, for when the club finally builds its own stadium. It would be tempting to opt for something like Red Bull Arena, the home of New York’s other MLS team, the New Jersey-based Red Bulls, which is an impressive if fairly generic soccer-specific stadium. Or they could keep the baseball-style stands for the standing areas, the big scoreboards, the Americana, while incorporating New York’s cosmopolitan character into the venue.

All this does not mean that fans of NYC FC should settle for the current situation. Supporting a club can often mean sticking with a team during difficult periods while also fighting for something better. But once a new home is found and a new facility is built, fans may look back on the Yankee Stadium era as an “I was there” moment that actually wasn’t that bad. Some may even miss it.