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SBD Global/May 22, 2013/Franchises

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



Man City CEO Ferran Soriano, right, said he is "thrilled" to contribute to N.Y. soccer.
Major League Soccer Tuesday morning announced New York City FC, a partnership between EPL club Man City and MLB N.Y. 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, football-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. Man City CEO Ferran Soriano said, “We are thrilled to contribute to the energy and growth of New York City soccer. 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, SBD).

MAN CITY STRENGTH: In London, James Ducker reported in addition to adding a 20th club to the rapidly expanding MLS, the move "will strengthen City's attempts to expand their commercial arm and profile in the U.S. as they look to dramatically boost income." With UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules coming into effect from the start of the '14-15 season, with the intention of limiting clubs to spending only what they earn, City is "exploring all ways to increase" its revenue streams (LONDON TIMES, 5/21). Also in London, Ian Herbert wrote Soriano "rejected the idea of launching a Barcelona franchise in the MLS" when CEO of the Spanish club eight years ago, on the grounds that football "was still relatively low profile in the country." But MLS "has grown since then, helped substantially by David Beckham's presence at the L.A. Galaxy." Though the pioneering venture is a way of City Owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan launching Abu Dhabi into the U.S. sports scene, the project "is being driven by Manchester City in a way which had not been anticipated" (INDEPENDENT, 5/21). BLOOMBERG's Scott Soshnick reported Lavine said that the Yankees "would support Man City and the league in their efforts to secure a suitable stadium site." He declined to comment when asked if the team would or could play at Yankee Stadium. Lavine said, "We know how to get things done in New York City. We think the combination will be very, very powerful" (BLOOMBERG, 5/21).

CROWDED MARKET: In London, Gelles & Blitz wrote N.Y. "is the most crowded professional sports market in the country, with two baseball teams, two American football teams, two basketball teams, two hockey teams" and now two football teams. NYCFC "will join the New York Red Bulls, another MLS team that plays in the area," home to 19 million people. MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "We look forward to an intense crosstown rivalry between New York City Football Club and the New York Red Bulls that will captivate this great city." Man City "has for decades been a poor relation of its more illustrious neighbour" ManU. But "the club was transformed when acquired" by Sheikh Mansour of the Abu Dhabi royal family in '08. He "has invested millions in turning City into a powerhouse in the English Premier League," winning the title in the '11-12 season. City came second to rivals ManU in this season’s title race (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/21).
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