New York City FC is hoping free tickets will entice club members to travel across the river to New Jersey for its CONCACAF Champions League home debut later this month.
On Friday, the club and CONCACAF officially announced Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, home of the rival Red Bulls, as host of City’s Feb. 26 Round of 16 match against Costa Rican champion AD San Carlos.
With local fans forced to make the longer trip, the club will offer a free ticket to each 2020 City Member, who also can purchase additional tickets for $10. Non-members can purchase tickets for $25.
According to the release, “unavoidable winterization procedures” at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field forced NYCFC to search for another venue for the Round of 16. The baseball stadiums will be available for future Champions League matches should City advance, pending the CONCACAF approval process.
Speaking at a fan event Thursday in Manhattan, NYCFC CEO Brad Sims described the “struggle” of finding a suitable spot for the match, as well as difficulties in the search for a long term solution. Numerous other venues within the five boroughs were explored for the game, Sims said, but none of the options submitted were approved by CONCACAF.
“Quite frankly, we felt that we had more than one viable venue and a suitable venue within the five boroughs. And we've been in a situation where we've been working hard to get a venue approved, a venue that we all would feel good about, that our club feels good about, that our fans feel good about, and we've not had any luck there, unfortunately,” Sims said Thursday.
According to the release, Red Bull Arena, the only soccer-specific professional stadium in the area, was left as “the only approved venue within a reasonable distance of New York City.”
NYCFC long has searched for a suitable location for a permanant home and reportedly is close to doing just that. The New York Times reported Friday that the club is nearing an agreement with the city to allow construction of a 25,000-seat stadium near Yankee Stadium as part of a $1 billion development plan.