Yankees Buy Minority Stake In New Major League Soccer Team

Yankees Global Enterprises, the parent company of the New York Yankees, has teamed with the Manchester City Football Club of the English Premier League to bring a new Major League Soccer team to New York. The team will be known as the New York Football Club and will begin action in 2015 MLS season. The New York Times reported that the Yankees have invested as much as $25 million toward the $100 million purchase price.

Manchester City is owned by an investment group led by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi. That group has been working with MLS for several years to launch a new New York franchise. The New York Red Bulls play in Harrison, New Jersey.

The Yankees’ involvement in the Manchester City bid came together quickly in the past several weeks. The two sides know each other well as the Yankees’ Legends Hospitality provides services at Manchester City’s home stadium. As Howard Megdal reported for Sports On Earth, the New York Mets were once considered by MLS as the group that would team with a partner for a new New York pro soccer team. The Mets’ financial difficulties made that impossible, which opened the door for the Yankees.

The Mets do hold some cards, though. The New York Football Club — which will likely play its first season at Yankee Stadium — needs to build a new stadium. For years, talks have been focused on Flushing Meadows Corona Park, near CitiField. The Mets have demanded millions of dollars for use of the CitiField parking lots and restrictions on when soccer games can be played, relative to Mets games. The Yankees will now take the lead in shepherding the stadium proposal through the political NYC approval process.

The Yankees aren’t the first MLB team to invest in with a Premier League team. Fenway Sports Group, the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, bought the Liverpool Football Club for $476 million back in 2010. Two other Premier League teams are owned by families that also own NFL franchises. The Glazer family owns both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke also owns Arsenal.

Dual-team ownership is nothing new, of course. Jerry Reinsdorf owns the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls. Mike Illitch owns the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings. Lew Wolff is a part-owner of the Oakland A’s and the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS. Ted Lerner Leonsis and his Monumental Sports and Entertainment owns the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. The Cleveland Indians’ owner — Larry Dolan — is the nephew of James Dolan, who owns the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers.

The Yankees’ investment in the New York Football Club comes several months after News Corporation bought a 49% share of the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network (YES) for nearly $1.5 billion. The reduction in the Yankees’ equity stake in YES will be accompanied by an increase in the team’s annual rights fee payment from the regional sports network. It also allowed the Yankees to reduce their investment in an area that may now be at its peak value — regional sports networks — and freed up funds to invest in an area that has a huge potential for growth in the United States — professional soccer.

Those are shrewd moves off the field for a team that made shrewd — but somewhat criticized — moves to fill the holes on the field left by injured stars. If the New York Football Club works out as well as the trade for Vernon Well, the Yankees will be in good shape.

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Wendy is also a contributing writer for Sports on Earth. Her writing has appeared on ESPN.com, Baseball Nation, Bay Area Sports Guy, The Score, The Classical and San Francisco Magazine. Wendy practiced law for 18 years before beginning her writing career. You can find her work at wendythurm.pressfolios.com and follow her on Twitter @hangingsliders.

23 Responses to “Yankees Buy Minority Stake In New Major League Soccer Team”

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  1. John Henry says:

    Tee hee hee hee!

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  2. Kevin says:

    I can’t imagine the Mets, as revenue conscious as they are, would support a stadium in FM park. Not only would their chief competitor be moving in essentially next door, but the Mets also host international soccer games a few times a year. I expect they will use whatever political clout they have to prevent a stadium in FM park.

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  3. JoeLondon(there's too many Joe's) says:

    A Dolan owns the Indians!?!? It all makes sense now…

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  4. LondonTribe says:

    “The Yankees aren’t the first MLB team to invest in a Premier League team.”

    The Yankees aren’t investing in a Premier League Club they are investing in a New York City based MLS club owned by a Premier League club. They will own no part of Manchester City FC.

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      • Tim_the_Beaver says:

        Pretty surprised no mention of Lew Wolff and the San Jose Earthquakes…? Lots to talk about there, such as building them a new stadium, their Front office partnership with Tottenham Hotspur…

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        • joser says:

          Lot to talk about with many of those other teams, but that’s not the focus of this article, is it? I don’t think that was meant to be an exhaustive list of multi-team owners, either: Paul Allen (Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers) also wasn’t mentioned, for example.

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        • Tim_the_Beaver says:

          Yes but SJ Earthquakes are an MLS team. So if you’re looking for a parallel of an MLB owner buying an MLS team and building them a new stadium, it is the first one I’d examine for insights.

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        • Wendy Thurm says:

          Agree. Leaving out Lew Wolff was a mistake. I’ve added him now.

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        • Tim_the_Beaver says:

          Love the angle you bring to FG, thanks Wendy

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  5. Jj says:

    Yeah. The clubs also called New York City Football Club. Not New York FC. And like the commenter above they didn’t get any form of stack in man city.

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  6. Stay Out Of Flushing Meadows Corona Park Guy says:

    Stay out of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

    I mean it.

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    • Alexander Nevermind says:

      As someone completely unfamiliar with that area other than the reading I’ve done, what are your core objections? Do you play in that park? Are there no other usable fields nearby? Where would you propose the new stadium be built? I’ve read compelling arguments against this site, but I was curious for your personal reasoning.

      *All these questions are asked sincerely

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  7. Alexander Nevermind says:

    I wanted to echo that the team is NYCFC (not NYFC), and will probably be referred to simply as “City,” like the partnering club.

    Also, I have seen Yankee Stadium mentioned elsewhere as a possible temporary home-site, but with the MLS and MLB seasons happening concurrently, I do not see how this is possible.

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  8. Sean says:

    The Wizards owner is Ted Leonsis, not Ted Lerner.

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  9. JuanPierreDoesSteroids says:

    Fuck Soccer.

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  10. drew says:

    F*** baseball.

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  11. Winston says:

    F*** cities.

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  12. maqman says:

    There is a higher probability of soccer becoming a major US sport than baseball becoming a major international sport. There is no single or majority owner of Arsenal.

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    • Me says:

      Baseball already is a major international sport. And a quick google search would tell you you are wrong about arsenal.

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