As a long time New Yorker (I’m from Long Island specifically), I’ve always thought that for the league to truly thrive a team in NYC was needed. Here is a similar 10-reason list, but this time in support of expansion in the Big Apple.
1. The Red Bulls simply are not New York’s team.
In my article concerning whether Alessandro Del Piero or Thierry Henry would be a better fit for the Red Bulls, one extraneous idea continuously sprung up among the reader comments. To paraphrase, "What difference does either star make, as people aren’t interested in driving to the midst of New Jersey?" Now, one questions if these are the type of supporters the league wants, but they do introduce a legitimate problem for MLS.
If the Devils were the sole hockey team in the Tri-State Area, they still would not have the same pull that the Rangers or even the Islanders have among New Yorkers.
Despite the name "New York Red Bulls," the team is in New Jersey and is a New Jersey team.
2. The Wilpons a bad thing?
The Wilpon family should be considered a tremendous asset and one that would make fans in Dallas and Columbus envious. Although the Mets have never been tremendously successful under the Wilpons, they have been among the few teams capable of competing with the Yankees and Red Sox financially. This bankrolling will be crucial to making inlays in the Big Apple; a stadium and star power wouldn’t be out of the question with an ownership known to splurge.
The construction of Citi Field is another positive reason if the Wilpons decided to bring professional soccer to NYC. They have the understanding of how (and hopefully the patience) to build in New York and make a soccer-specific stadium in Queens viable.
3. There are no other 'WOW' bids.
Now that Montreal has been introduced as the 19th MLS club, there is a vacancy of sterling expansion sites. Every city from St. Louis to Atlanta and Miami has brazen problems that make me cautious for the league.
Yes, St. Louis has a fantastic soccer culture, but until we see the success of their new USL club, it’s difficult to see if another smaller Midwest city can support an MLS franchise. Also, just because the Southeast is bereft of MLS doesn't mean the region deserves a club. One needs not look farther than the Miami Fusion or the Atlanta Silverbacks to realize that a southeastern team wouldn’t have the same success as the recent expansion clubs.
4. The Borough Boys
An established supporters club like the Sons of Ben or a successful USL franchise doesn’t exist in support for a club in New York, but a grassroots movement is around. The Borough Boys, a smaller group created just to promote the idea of this article, has the potential to be the "groundswell" needed to precipitate expansion.
5. Long Island
Red Bull Arena is an immaculate stadium and a fantastic sign for the league, but its location alienates a major supposed base of fans from witnessing its majesty. The logjam of New York traffic separates nearly seven and half million Long Islanders from attending matches. The real soccer lovers will always be willing to trudge through the metropolis, but most likely not the ones with casual interest. After some frustrating rides (up to four hours because of Saturday night construction work), I know that some are already thinking twice about returning.
Ramin makes the argument that with the long-awaited arrival of Red Bull Arena a second New York franchise would unsettle the growth of the Austrian brand in the region. But Don Garber has stated that MLS is targeting 2013 as the earliest year for this new NY team; the new stadium has plenty of time to make its impact.
If two and a half seasons form today, New York hasn’t connected with the Red Bulls, a rivalry may be a solution to promote soccer in Harrison, N.J.
7. Wait, so they’re named after an energy drink?
I agree that New York is always interested in the best possible product, which explains one of the reasons why the Red Bulls haven’t resonated with its fan base. The idea that a team is not only owned, but also branded after a soft drink is incomprehensible to most New Yorkers.
The Red Bull Organization has promoted the public transportation as one of the reasons why Red Bull Arena is so fantastic. The PATH is a fantastic option for those in New Jersey and the city, but the casual fan is still unwilling to make the trip. A train ride from Manhattan to Queens is much more realistic than one to Harrison.
9. NY vs NJ
Any New Yorker will tell you that a game involving the Mets and the Yankees is much more exciting or relevant for fans than one between the Mets and the Marlins. A New York MLS rivalry would galvanize the city as there would be animosity created those fans that decided to switch from the newly born club.
10. NYC does have a soccer tradition!
One of the reasons why St. Louis has such a vocal backing is that the Gateway City has long had a strong soccer tradition. But that is just compared to a city of its magnitude.
NYC is the home to some of the oldest and most famed men's teams as well as throngs of soccer loving immigrants. A New York franchise with the correct owner would surely be a success for MLS.
What do you think about the possible expansion in NYC? Follow twitter.com/averyRaimondo
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