As New York City FC wraps its second season using Red Bull Arena as a part-time home, the club appears ready to say goodbye to the home of its cross-river rival.
Whether NYCFC will be able to do so remains to be seen.
In a letter to season-ticket holders, NYCFC chief executive Brad Sims wrote that the club plans to play as many of next season’s home games as possible at Yankee Stadium while utilizing Citi Field as an alternate venue.
"As it is currently trending, we are likely to play roughly [two-thirds] of next year’s home matches at Yankee Stadium with the plan to schedule the remaining matches at Citi Field," Sims wrote.
The club also is not planning for any regular-season matches at Red Bull Arena next season, but the Harrison, New Jersey, stadium would be a third choice should a scheduling conflict arise at the baseball venues.
"Let me be clear, we are not planning to schedule any MLS 2022 regular-season home matches at Red Bull Arena," Sims wrote. "However, if we find ourselves with a conflict for any reason (such as the Yankees' rainout makeup games this season) and neither Yankee Stadium nor Citi Field are available, then Red Bull Arena would be our third venue option."
Yankee Stadium has been the club's traditional home venue since it began play in 2015. Citi Field has hosted NYCFC in the past, most recently for its 2019 playoff appearance, and was scheduled to play several matches in Queens last year before the COVID-19 pandemic complicated those plans.
Red Bull Arena will remain an option for the rest of 2021 with Sims’ letter explaining possible scenarios for Yankee Stadium’s availability. NYCFC has two matches set for RBA — Oct. 23 vs. DC United and Oct. 27 vs. Chicago Fire — that would move back to the Bronx if the Yankees fail to reach the ALCS. In addition, the Nov. 7 Decision Day match against the Philadelphia Union currently set for Yankee Stadium could be moved to Red Bull Arena should the Yankees reach the World Series and need to host Game 6 or 7. Regardless of the Yankees’ playoff fortunes, any NYCFC home matches in the MLS Cup playoffs will be hosted at Yankee Stadium.
NYCFC has used Red Bull Arena, home of the rival Red Bulls, as a second venue since early 2020. At that time, Yankee Stadium was still being readied for the season, so the club played a pair of CONCACAF Champions League matches at RBA just before the pandemic paused the sports calendar. Yankee Stadium’s availability then was limited by MLB protocols in summer 2020, and NYCFC began the in-market MLS restart in an empty Red Bull Arena, moving back to the Stadium once the Yankees’ season finished.
This year, the club has bounced between the two venues, playing in the Bronx when possible but scheduling nearly half of its matches for New Jersey from the start and moving two matches to RBA mid-season, resulting in some of the smallest crowds in MLS.
"We know that playing home games at Red Bull Arena is far from ideal. Our match on [Sept. 14] earlier this month marked the second time this season that we’ve had to shift a home game originally scheduled at Yankee Stadium to Red Bull Arena – and unfortunately, both of these moves happened in the span of one month," Sims wrote. "We know this is hugely frustrating for our City Members and fans, and we were disappointed to be forced to do so. I want to take this opportunity to reiterate to you that regularly playing games at Red Bull Arena is not our plan moving forward."