MLS

Man City, Yankees to own MLS club

Listen to NYC FC CEO Ferran Soriano talk about the new MLS club.
Listen to NYC FC CEO Ferran Soriano talk about the new MLS club.
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NEW YORK (AP)

The New York Yankees are going into the soccer business.

The Yankees are partnering with Manchester City to own Major League Soccer's 20th team, which will be called New York City Football Club and plans to start play in the 2015 season.

Manchester City, owned by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, will be the majority owner of the new team. Yankees President Randy Levine will be the lead person responsible for launching it.

''They'll be running all the soccer. We know our way around New York, how to get things done,'' Levine said Tuesday.

The expansion fee for the new team is $100 million. It will compete for attention and dollars with 10 other professional big league teams in the New York market.

MLS has been negotiating with New York City to build a stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, near the home of the New York Mets.

''Flushing is still the preferred site,'' MLS Commissioner Don Garber said.

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However, community groups have opposed using city parkland for a stadium. Manchester City Chief Executive Officer Ferran Soriano said other sites will be considered.

''We need a community that supports us. We need a family that's going to embrace us,'' he said. ''So we're going to continue this discussion. But the first thing we want to do is to listen, listen to the community, listen to everybody.''

NYC FC will start play at an interim venue. New Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009, hosted its first two soccer matches last summer and is the site of an exhibition Saturday between Manchester City and Chelsea. The original Yankee Stadium was the home of the North American Soccer League's New York Cosmos in 1976.

''Yankee Stadium is an option, as are many places,'' Levine said.

The new team is intended to spark a rivalry with the New York Red Bulls, who play in Harrison, N.J.

''The Red Bulls now will have a rival here in the market providing them with that derby-like competition that is such a driver of what makes football so successful around the world,'' said Garber, calling the addition of a second New York team a ''big transformational event.''

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There is a chance NYC FC can serve as a farm team for Manchester City, which in 2012 won its first Premier League title since 1968. Young players unable to break into the Man City squad could be loaned to the MLS team.

''I think naturally it will happen, that some Manchester players will end up playing in New York,'' Soriano said. ''But the objective and the focus will be to try to find the right players for the New York team. The New York team is a team on its own.''

The Yankees have long been exploring soccer deals. A partnership with Manchester United was announced in 2001, but that turned into a now-expired licensing and broadcasting agreement in which the clubs sold each other's licensed goods and exchanged television programming. The Yankees' YES Network has broadcast Arsenal games on a delayed basis since October 2010.

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Legends Hospitality, co-owned by the Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and Checketts Partners Investment Fund, takes over hospitality and catering at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium next season under a partnership with Jamie Oliver's Fabulous Feasts that was announced in January. Legends already has started work on premium seats sales.

With the decision completed on team No. 20, MLS can turn attention to No. 21.

Former Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham, retiring as a player this weekend, has an option to buy an MLS expansion team at below cost. Miami appears to be a possible market.

''It's just premature,'' Garber said. ''Clearly we've got to finalize a long-term expansion plan for the league.''

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