Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

We're minutes away from the start of 2014, our "gap year" between the introduction of the club in 2013 and the start of play in 2015.

This upcoming year promises to be a very exciting one, as this is where everything comes together. Right now, NYCFC is little more than a handful of staff and a temporary crest. By this time next year, the club will almost be ready to take the pitch. In that time we can look forward to the first player signings, the unveiling of the club crest, an announcement of homes both temporary and (hopefully) permanent, and much, much more.

Happy New Year to everyone associated with the club. 2014 will be our chance to show that NYC truly is Blue.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Circle January 3rd on That New Calendar

Information on City's Bronx stadium proposal has been slow in recent months, but we may have just been given an unannounced peek into the timeline.

Bloomberg has this report on the plan to bail out the defaulted parking garage:
Yankees Parking Debt May Get Funds From Planned Soccer Arena

By Michelle Kaske
Dec 18, 2013 4:50 PM ET

Investors holding about $238 million of defaulted tax-exempt bonds used to construct parking garages at Yankee Stadium in New York are set to benefit from a planned land sale for a new soccer stadium at the site.

Bondholders have agreed to extend negotiations with the issuer for two years provided that the New York City Football Club enters into an accord by Jan. 3 to purchase a portion of the parking structures, according to a filing with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. The club is a Major League Soccer expansion team.

Proceeds of the sale would repay some of the debt, with the remainder to be restructured, said John Miller, who helps manage $90 billion of munis, including some of the parking bonds, as co-head of fixed-income at Nuveen Asset Management LLC in Chicago. Remaining parking facilities would then receive business from baseball games and soccer matches, Miller said.

“When the soccer stadium is constructed, you actually have two event centers -- Yankee Stadium and a soccer stadium -- serviced by one parking lot,” Miller said.

The bonds, which are repaid with parking revenue, are in default as fans take trains, buses and taxis to see the Major League Baseball team rather than driving to games in the Bronx.

Bronx Borrowing

Bronx Parking Development Co. issued tax-exempt bonds in 2007 through New York City’s Industrial Development Agency to build the garages and renovate two others.

Bonds due in October 2017 traded at an average price of about 32 cents on the dollar today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Neither we nor the city have made any decisions about a location for a stadium,” Risa Heller, spokeswoman for the soccer club, said in a statement. “We are reviewing sites all over the city.”

Edward Moran, a financial adviser for Bronx Parking Development; and Steven Polivy, an attorney representing the company, didn’t return phone messages and e-mails seeking comment. Neither did Ray Orlando, a spokesman for New York’s Office of Management and Budget.
Seems to me that they buried the lede, at least from our perspective, in the second paragraph.

The new and important information is the January 3 date for the team to sign an agreement with the garage company. That means that, barring an extension of that deadline, we could City publicly commit to the Bronx site in a little over two weeks.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Man City 2014-15 Shirt Leaked?

Footy Headlines is claiming that they have a leak of Manchester City's home shirt for 2014-15:

Ordinarily, Man City news wouldn't make this blog—I'm not terribly interested in the parent organization on its own, only as it relates to NYCFC—but I'll make an exception in this case because the shirt design would be so good for our club. Swap out the black for navy, add whatever NYC-themed crest the club settles on, and we're good to go.

It looks quite reminiscent of Brooklyn design firm Hyperakt's excellent logo and kit proposal:

Of course, Adidas has the MLS league-wide kit contract through 2018, so whatever design we get with be saddled with three stripes down the sleeves. Ah, well.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Pretty Good Day

As if Tuesday wasn't a good enough deal, with the announcement that Jason Kreis will be the club's head coach and the report that City is close to a stadium deal in the Bronx, I received this in the mail on the same day:

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

NY Post: Bronx Stadium Deal “Very, Very Close”

Almost at the same time City announced that Jason Kreis will be the club's first head coach, the New York Post published this report:
Bronx scores $400M soccer stadium

By Josh Kosman
December 10, 2013 | 10:58pm

After looking at sites in Queens and Brooklyn, a Major League Soccer franchise on Tuesday stood close to a deal to build a 28,000-seat stadium in The Bronx just south of Yankee Stadium, The Post has learned.

The New York City Football Club — majority owned by the Manchester City Football Club of the Premier League in the UK — is “very, very close” to inking a deal with GAL Manufacturing, an elevator parts company, sources close to the deal said.

The deal with the soccer club, which is 20 percent owned by the Yankees, will also include the not-for-profit Bronx Parking Development Company.

The $400 million stadium will be located on what now is an empty lot between the Major Deegan and East 153rd Street, a source following the situation said.

Mayor Bloomberg has blessed the pact.

However, the team will not move forward without mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s blessing, and he has not yet reviewed the deal, sources said.

The complex deal includes the NYCFC paying for GAL to relocate.

Under the proposed plan, the NYCFC will fund construction of the stadium with city-backed tax exempt bonds.

The club would make pilot payments through a 35-year deal and guarantee bondholders revenues from suite sales, naming rights and the like, a source said.

That is similar to the way the Yankees, Mets and Forest City Ratner recently paid for their stadiums.

The new MLS team plans to start playing games during the 2015 season at Yankee Stadium.

It hopes to start playing in the new digs in 2018 or 2019, the source said.

Neither the Yanks nor the NYCFC could be reached for comment.
Interesting. Not much new about the plan here - all of the details were outlined in the New York Times back in August - but it's interesting to hear that they might be close to a deal.

There has been much made amoung fans of other teams that City wasn't held to the preferred "stadium deal must be in place" standard of MLS. The counter-argument has always been that the deal was in the works, thanks in no small part to the three years MLS spent working on it, and that the league knew an agreement was close. This would seem to bear that out.

Not to be outdone, the Daily News has this piece from columnist Juan Gonzalez opposing the deal:
Bronx soccer stadium deal near Yankee Stadium offers big incentives to Arab firm

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will have 30 days after inauguration to ink a deal that would allow a stadium for the New York City Football Club to be built on city land — that would be rent-free for decades.

By Juan Gonzalez
Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 2:30 AM

Twitter: @viperRBNY
Will it be a last-minute gooooal in the Bronx for the Yankees and their Middle East sheik soccer partner?

City officials are scampering to sign a deal by the end of this month for $300 million in tax-free bonds that would allow the Yankees and a royal from the United Arab Emirates to tear down one of the bankrupt Yankee Stadium garages and build a Major League Soccer stadium, two sources close to the talks have told the Daily News.

A draft of the agreement circulating among Economic Development Corp. staff would require Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to decide within 30 days of his inauguration whether to approve the deal for the new soccer franchise, the New York City Football Club, the sources said.

Under the complex proposal, the new soccer team — a joint venture of the Yankees and Manchester City Football Club, a British team owned by Sheik Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan — would pay virtually no rent for 38 years for the largely city-owned land on which the proposed 28,000-seat soccer venue would sit.

The new franchise would also be permitted to divert the property taxes it would normally owe the city to pay off its bonds, the sources said — a deal similar to the one the Yankees and the Mets got for their new stadiums in 2005. The soccer club would be exempt from sales taxes or mortgage taxes.

The soccer venture would pay an estimated $25 million to bondholders of the bankrupt Bronx Parking Development firm for its E. 153rd St. garage, which sits on city-owned land. In addition, Yankees President Randy Levine is trying to buy out and relocate a nearby elevator equipment company, GAL Manufacturing Corp., which employs more than 350 workers.

The soccer club needs the manufacturing site, the parking garage and an agreement by the city to permanently close E. 153rd St. for the new stadium.

Levine declined Tuesday to discuss the deal or even confirm an agreement was near. But he has been busy courting the support of Bronx public officials for days.

“NYCFC is looking for a home, not simply a place to play,” said Risa Heller, spokeswoman for the soccer venture. “As we have said from the start, we are reviewing sites all over the city.”

Community opposition earlier this year in Queens killed a proposed stadium for the new team in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

With the team scheduled to begin league play in 2015, it will have to share space in Yankee Stadium until its own field is built.

Mayor Bloomberg’s aides redoubled efforts in recent days to lock in a deal before de Blasio takes office. The Economic Development Corp. “is trying to get a memorandum of understanding done before Bloomberg leaves office,” one source told The News.

It could still take months or years for land-use procedures and City Council reviews to be completed, but reaching a preliminary accord now could force de Blasio to take a stand quickly.

The last-minute rush has sparked unease even among EDC staffers accustomed to generous deals for big companies.

After all, it was the Yankees who demanded 9,000 parking spaces before agreeing to build their stadium. That led to a financial debacle when fans shunned overpriced garages.

Now the garage company is bankrupt and the city is owed nearly $50 million in back rent and taxes that it will never recover.

So why are city officials considering yet more subsidies to a new sports franchise controlled by the Yankees and a sheik whose family oversees more than $400 billion in oil wealth?


28,000 seating capacity

$300 million in tax-free bonds

38 years of free rent

$25 million in payout to parking lot owners

$400 billion in oil wealth controlled by Abu Dhabi Sheik Mansour
We'll see what happens next.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coach Kreis!

Just minutes ago, NYCFC confirmed that Jason Kreis will be the team's first head coach! Obviously we'll have a lot of details to talk about in the next few days and weeks, but it's great to have this made official.

Here is the team's official press release:
New York City FC is today delighted to announce that it has appointed Jason Kreis as its Head Coach. The team, which will begin playing in its inaugural season in 2015, was announced as Major League Soccer’s 20th Expansion Club in May this year.

The role, which formally begins in January 2014, will see Kreis first travel to England to spend time at English Premier League associate club Manchester City FC. There, he will work closely with Head Coach Manuel Pellegrini, World Cup winner Patrick Vieira and Txiki Bergiristain, the club’s Director of Football, Champions League winner, and former Director of Football at FC Barcelona.

During this time, Kreis will be immersed in all aspects of Manchester City FC, observing in particular, the club’s approach to coaching, training, and player development, with the goal of applying similar approaches to New York City FC.

Kreis joins the Club having spent nearly seven years in charge of Real Salt Lake, during which time the team reached its first post-season playoff appearance in 2008, won its first MLS Cup Championship in 2009 and, most recently, came second by the narrowest of margins to Sporting Kansas City following a dramatic penalty shoot- out last weekend in the 2013 MLS Cup Championship.

His playing record at Dallas Burn and Real Salt Lake is equally impressive, having been the Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1999, the third highest scorer in MLS regular season history and the first to hit 100 MLS career goals. After retiring as a player from professional soccer during the 2007 season, he was immediately named head coach of Real Salt Lake, becoming the youngest active head coach in MLS.

Speaking of the appointment, NYCFC’s Sporting Director, Claudio Reyna said, “Jason is one of the true pioneers of Major League Soccer, and a leader any team would be proud to have at the helm. His skills and experience, together with his commitment to quality football make him the ideal choice to lead New York City FC in its first season and beyond. He has already left a historic mark on the league, both as a player and coach and we have every confidence in him continuing to do so at New York City FC.”

Echoing these sentiments, the Club’s Chief Executive Officer, Ferran Soriano said, “We are delighted that Jason is joining us as our Head Coach. His experience in MLS speaks for itself and he will be able to add to that experience by working with our football team in Manchester during 2014. With the leadership of Jason and Claudio we are providing New York City FC with both top-level knowledge of soccer in the US and world class soccer know-how from Europe. This is the ideal platform for NYCFC to start. We are very excited.”

Jason Kreis commented, “I am looking forward to making my contribution to New York City FC from the very outset. The opportunity to develop the first professional club based in New York City was impossible to pass up as was the chance to immerse myself in the football operations in Manchester observing some of the leading figures in European football. There will be a lot to do before our inaugural season in 2015, but I’m confident that with the support teams in the City organization, we will be well placed to hit the ground running.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone associated with Real Salt Lake, including its fantastic fans for the many special years I spent there. I wish them all the very best for the future.

UPDATE: As I was publishing this post, I received the email announcement from the club:

The text reads:
On behalf of everyone at New York City FC, we are thrilled to have you join our family. Since May we have been building the foundation of your Club, all while connecting and learning from our local clubs and groups to develop relationships in the soccer community in New York City.

The countdown is on to our inaugural MLS season in 2015 and in the coming months we will be bringing many firsts to the NYC pitch. As one of our very first supporters, you will have access to the best seats in the house as well an inside track on every big event and announcement.

That starts right now. We are pleased to announce that Jason Kreis has officially been named the first Head Coach of New York City FC.

After retiring as a player from professional soccer during the 2007 season, Kreis was immediately named head coach of Real Salt Lake, becoming the youngest active head coach in MLS. In this role, Kreis led Real Salt Lake to its first post-season playoff appearance in 2008 and to its first MLS Cup Championship in 2009, becoming the youngest coach in MLS history to do so.

"I am thrilled about the opportunity to join the first Major League Soccer team in New York City and help build this club into something special that all New Yorkers can be proud of. Your support will mean everything as we get closer to playing our first game in 2015, and I can't wait to be a part of growing this fan base into one of the best in the league."


New York City FC's history has begun, and you're a part of it!

Your friends at New York City FC.
Good to have something concrete to talk about.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Garber: Man City Investment "a Postitive" for MLS

Yesterday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber stopped by the Fox Sports studios in New York City's Chelsea Piers to appear on the program "Crowd Goes Wild". He talked about (among other things) NYCFC, the Yankees and a potential location for our club's new stadium.

Co-host Regis Philbin introduced the Commish and started off the conversation:
Philbin: How about the New York Yankees getting involved in soccer?

Garber: Very cool. It shows where the league is, Regis, you have the Yankees and Manchester City-club over in England-coming together, buying a team in New York City. That'll give us two clubs in New York. That'll start in 2015, hopefully in a stadium that will be - maybe even adjacent to Yankee Stadium.

Philbin: Well, that would be great. But I keep hearing something's brewing out in Queens. Is that-

Garber: You know, Queens was a hope and a prayer. We were trying to get a stadium in Flushing Meadow Park, once we got the Yankees done, I don't think the Mets were too excited about-

Philbin: Yeah.

Garber: -having a soccer stadium in their backyard.

Philbin: (overlapping) No. I think they'll be glad to have you in the Bronx!

Garber: (overlapping) Yeah, the Bronx is cool.

Philbin: (overlapping) Apparently close to the Stadium!

Garber: (overlapping) Subway ride, the Yankees having a stadium right next to their baseball stadium, could be very cool.
That's the big news being bandied about today, although I don't think Garber said anything terribly newsworthy. We've known since August that NYCFC had zeroed in on a South Bronx site for the stadium, and that the Queens plan was dead. He didn't exactly break new ground there.

What was more interesting to me was his defense of foreign investment in MLS clubs:
Let's put it in perspective. Three hundred plus million people here, we represent almost every country from around the world, America is the largest purchaser of World Cup rights, more people go to Brazil from the US than will go from England or go from Jamaica or any other country from around the world, so our country really is a soccer nation. So that creates an opportunity, so when Manchester City comes here, or Tottenham comes here, or AC Milan comes here, it's a big market, that's a positive thing, the rising tide lifts all boats, MLS has got a lot of boats on that rising tide, so we benefit from that. Kroenke owning Arsenal and owning one of our teams is a positive, Man City owning a big team in the Premier League and owning NYCFC is a positive, all of that is us trying to create more and more energy so that America could one day win the World Cup.
That's certainly the business model MLS has been pursuing:
  • DC United is now owned by a Southeast Asian investor who also owns Inter Milan;
  • David Beckham is in talks to purchase an expansion franchise in Miami, if he can get a stadium deal in place;
  • Arsenal and the Colorado Rapids are owned by the same billionaire (this time an American one);
  • the San Jose Earthquakes have a partnership with London's Tottenham Hotspur; and
  • Real Madrid and Real Salt Lake have a business arrangement that goes beyond the ludicrous shared name.
MLS obviously sees the world as getting smaller, and these international arrangements as increasing the visibility and viability of the American top flight as a whole.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Kreis Responds to "Almost 100%" Report

Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis has responded to Sports Illustrated's report that he's "almost 100%" committed to NYCFC: Fair enough. It's got to be supremely frustrating, as he prepares for their MLS Cup match in Kansas City, to have to address rumors about his next job. He's in Salt Lake City, if only for now, and that's where his responsibilities lie. There will be plenty of time for this next week.

The Salt Lake Tribune has posted a video, where they asked Kreis to respond:

Reporter: "There's a report today in Sports Illustrated about you going to New York as a head coach. Do you have a response on that?"

Kreis: "I have no response, it's the same response I've had for the last eight weeks - has it been eight weeks? at least? - the last two to three months now, that my focus is on this team, and will continue to be on this team, this club, and doing everything that I can for the next five days. And then after that (smiles) I'll go into hiding for three days, and try to make a decision."

Reporter: "So a decision isn't made then, Coach?"

Kreis: "Oh, no."

Reporter: "Will this match have an impact on that decision?"

Kreis: "I don't think so. As I said, I have a view that what this club has done, what this team in particular has done this year is already successful. The result this weekend is icing on the cake, insignificant to my decision."
As it should be. The Tribune also interviews Real Salt Laker Kyle Beckerman in that same video. The midfielder had this to say:
Reporter: "There was a report today that Jason is going to leave for New York-"

Beckerman: "Oh, really?"

Reporter: "-is that something that you guys have talked about as a team? How do you guys kind of deal with that, with the uncertainty?"

Beckerman: "I feel - we kind of thought maybe it would happen. I think... he's a great coach, people are going to want him, and so how can we hold somebody back that wants to go somewhere, if that's the case? And so... we're okay with that. We knew he wouldn't... his commitment, his desire - anything he would have done with our team if he's coming back next year, he would have done the same if he's leaving. So we knew nothing was going to change, and we feel if he does go, we have a core here, we have a coaching staff - coaches that can step up and keep what we've got going on. But we'll be sad to miss him, if that's true and he does go, we'll definitely miss him. I mean, he's been the leader of our group for now 5, 6, maybe 7 years, so - it'll definitely be strange, but you can't hold somebody back if they want to go, and try something else. It's on the Eastern Conference, so we'll only see him once a year (laughs). So it's not the worst. But no, hopefully it's not true, and hopefully he stays."
We'll see what next week brings.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Kreis "almost 100%" to NYCFC?

This tweet comes from Sports Illustrated's Brian Straus: And a follow-up: This is excellent news, if true. Kreis has done an amazing job with Salt Lake, and his experience in the league would go a long way with a club starting from scratch.