After five years of prowling New York City and Long Island, New York City Football Club, the Major League Soccer franchise owned by the Yankees and a royal billionaire from Abu Dhabi, may have finally found a site for its own stadium.
In the Bronx. Right near Yankee Stadium. Exactly where team owners said they wanted to build in 2013. Back then, the plan unraveled when negotiations with the city fell apart.
If approved this time around, the stadium would sit amid a 20-acre, multibillion-dollar development stretching along East 153rd Street and River Avenue, between Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Terminal Market, that would include a park, a hotel and conference center focused on soccer and sports, shops, office space, a school and as many as 3,000 affordable apartments.
[Aren’t there already a lot of stadiums and arenas in the New York area? Here’s a look at the state of play.]
The development project would be led by a partnership of Jorge Madruga of Maddd Equities and Eli Weiss of Joy Construction, which would lease the land for the stadium to the team and build the housing, the park and the hotel.
“We think the stadium is added value to the entire neighborhood,” said Mr. Weiss, “but our core is housing and commercial development. That’s what we know how to do. But the stadium makes sense given where it is.”
A spokeswoman for the team said that New York City Football Club “is actively pursuing a permanent home in N.Y.C. and exploring several options, including working with Maddd Equities in the Bronx. We continue to engage in meaningful dialogue to understand what may be feasible on their site.”
The politics can be fraught and team and city officials are reluctant to discuss the stadium until a final deal is reached.
Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic development and a soccer fan, said discussions with the team are ongoing. But cautioned that nothing is final. The city has also been talking to the team about another site — next to Citi Field at Willets Point, Queens — that has been a perennial candidate for redevelopment.
“I do believe strongly that it would be a good thing to have a stadium specifically designed for soccer in a global city as incredibly diverse as New York,” Ms. Glen said. “We’re going to have the World Cup in 2026.”
“But,” she added, “it is way too early to say it’s happening in the Bronx as opposed to Queens. All these locations require discretionary approvals.”
Melinda Katz, the Queens Borough president, has favored the development of a soccer stadium or a hockey arena at Willets Point.
Rubén Díaz Jr., the Bronx borough president, said he looks “forward to working with community leaders, elected officials and other stakeholders to examine the pros and cons of this proposal and to ensure that any potential development works for the people of my borough.”
New York City F. C. is owned by a joint venture of the Yankees and an investment group led by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahayan, a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi who also owns Manchester City Football Club, a top soccer team in England.
New York City F.C. has played most of its home games at Yankee Stadium, where more than 30,000 fans attended a match on Sunday. Earlier this year, the team opened a new training center in Orangeburg, N.Y., and has completed the creation of 10 junior-sized soccer fields in New York City in partnership with Adidas and the U.S. Soccer Foundation.
Wherever New York City F.C. builds a stadium, however, it would not be big enough for World Cup matches, which can fill stadiums with 80,000 seats or more. New York City F.C.’s stadium would have about 26,000 seats and cost an estimated $400 million, according to an executive who has been briefed on the project but was not authorized to discuss it.
The soccer stadium would be the latest addition to what is already considered the country’s most crowded market for sports venues. It would bring the total to five stadiums and six arenas within a 60-mile radius of Madison Square Garden, a sports and entertainment mecca.
(That list does not include the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens, home of the United States Open.)
The 11 venues, including the proposed soccer stadium in the Bronx and two planned hockey arenas on Long Island, would have a combined 335,271 seats for basketball, hockey, football, soccer and baseball teams.
None of the teams play more than 81 home games a season. For much of the year, the stadiums and arenas are competing for concerts, ice skating performances, circuses, wrestling extravaganzas and other events.
“If you have any debt service at all, it means you’re going to have to attract highly attended events in order to make any stadium or arena viable,” said Robert A. Baade, a sports economist at Lake Forest College in Illinois and the author of “Getting Into the Game: Is the Gamble on Sports as a Stimulus for Economic Development a Good Bet?”
“The more stadiums and arenas, the more competition and the less likely any one of them will be successful,” he said.
New Jersey provides a picture of what that means. In 2015, the owners of the Prudential Center, the hockey arena in Newark, persuaded the governor of New Jersey to close the former Izod Arena that was 10 miles north to eliminate the competition for nonsporting events.
The Prudential Center, a $460 million project that included $305 million from the city of Newark, benefited. But New Jersey taxpayers are still paying off the debt on the state-owned Izod Arena.
Critics often challenge stadiums and arenas as a giveaway to team owners in return for a relatively small number of low-paid seasonal jobs.
But in the Bronx, the owners of New York City F.C., are not asking for the avalanche of free land, tax breaks and public funding that helped get Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and the Prudential Center built.
Mr. Madruga and Mr. Weiss say they have sought to acquire land in neighborhoods near Yankee Stadium for a decade for a large-scale housing development. Knowing that the soccer team had sought to build a stadium on East 153rd Street in the past, the developers said they recently approached Randy Levine, the presidnet of the Yankees.
The team’s decision to tie the new stadium to affordable housing is part of an effort to cast the project as having broad social benefit.
The developers say they have a binding agreement to buy the GAL Manufacturing factory on East 153rd Street, near the Major Deegan Expressway. The developers, in turn, would lease the land to New York City F.C. to build the stadium, with the rent subsidizing development of the housing.
The developer is also looking to relocate GAL nearby so the borough does not lose several hundred blue-collar jobs.
For the housing, the developer also has a tentative agreement to buy or lease a large parking garage across the street from GAL and several other parking lots on River Avenue owned by Bronx Parking Development Company, a money-losing company controlled by the city and a group of lenders.
Under an agreement with the Yankees, the city, through Bronx Parking, was required to provide 9,500 parking spaces for baseball games. But a new Metro-North rail station nearby undercut the need for all those parking spaces.
As part of a deal for the soccer stadium, the Yankees would agree to reduce the required number of parking spaces to 6,500, enabling Bronx Parking to sell or lease the land to the developer.
“The Yankees are very encouraged by the outlines of this plan,” said Alice McGillion, a spokeswoman for the team.
Follow Charles V. Bagli on Twitter: @chbagli