SBD/May 21, 2013/Franchises

Yankees Partner With EPL's Manchester City To Own MLS Expansion Team In N.Y.

Levine, Garber and Soriano (l to r) today announced MLS' 20th team
MLS this morning announced New York City FC, a partnership between EPL club Manchester City and the Yankees, will begin play in '15 as the league's 20th team. The club will begin play in an interim venue since it has yet to complete a deal for a new, soccer-specific stadium. MLS for the last year has been in discussions with N.Y. reps for property in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. The league will continue those discussions for the Queens site while exploring others in N.Y. The cost of the expansion franchise is approximately $100M, a new high for MLS. The league was advised in the deal by The Raine Group Founder & Partner Joe Ravitch. The Yankees and Man City have an existing relationship through Legends Hospitality. “We are thrilled to contribute to the energy and growth of New York City soccer,” said Man City CEO Ferran Soriano. “In the Yankees, we have found the absolute best partner for developing a world-class sports organization.” Yankees President Randy Levine will be the club’s point person in the partnership (Christopher Botta, Staff Writer). In N.Y., Belson & Bagli report Man City “will be the majority owner” of the new club, while the Yankees “will own about a quarter of the team.” The EPL club “had not initially contemplated inviting the Yankees to buy a share of the team.” However, Man City's owners in recent weeks “decided to become partners in the deal so they could make the most of the Yankees’ political connections and experience building stadiums” in N.Y. The new club “may play its inaugural season at Yankee Stadium” (NYTIMES.com, 5/21).

WHAT ABOUT BECKHAM? MLS Exec VP/Communications Dan Courtemanche prior to today's announcement said that David Beckham's advisers have "already discussed moving forward" with exercising Beckham's option to become the owner of an MLS franchise. SI.com's Grant Wahl noted Beckham had a stipulation in his deal with the Galaxy that he could become an owner after he retired, and the contract "specifies that Beckham would own an expansion team, not an existing team." He would pay an expansion fee of $25M, below the $40M fee "that Montreal paid last year." Sources said that Miami "is the city Beckham is most interested in right now" (SI.com, 5/20).
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