Talk of a second team in New York is as old as MLS itself. For a long time, that’s all it was: talk. But New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon entered the fray as a serious bidder for an MLS expansion franchise around 2007-2008, only to drop out after his estate lost a bunch of money to Bernie Madoff.
Now Wilpon is back in, speaking in non-obtuse terms about his desire to bring an MLS club to Queens, N.Y., specifically to the area surrounding Citi Field.
This has prompted vigorous debate on the matter. The pro-NYC2 camp so far appears to be making the most noise, which is unfortunate. Because while there may very well be legitimate arguments for bringing a second MLS team to the area, I have yet to hear or read any.
They all appear to follow the lines of this Goal.com column: Top 10 reasons New York needs another MLS team.
The Goal.com piece is laughable but deserves scrutiny precisely because it is the template used by supporters of the NYC2 cause. Hopefully by debunking it here we can put an end to these bogus efforts and set the area’s soccer fans on a more constructive path. Such as, say, supporting the local Major League Soccer club that already exists.
Ready? Here goes:
1. “The Red Bulls are simply not New York’s team.”
The reasoning is simple: the team’s home ground is in Harrison, N.J., prior to which it was at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, so they really have no right to refer to themselves as a New York club.
Except, according to this logic, the New York Giants and New York Jets have no right to call themselves New York teams either. Oh but wait: “The Giants and Jets started in the city of New York! It’s different for them!” (So goes the prevailing counter argument.) What about the New York Islanders then? They don’t play in New York City. Never have, in fact. Shouldn’t they call themselves the Nassau County Islanders? “Well Nassau County is still New York state.” Right, and so is Buffalo, N.Y. So teams from there can call themselves the New York Bills or New York Sabres? Moreover, the New York Yankees started as the Baltimore Orioles. Should they still refer to themselves that way even though they switched cities more than 100 years ago?
What it all boils down to is semantics. We can sit here and argue back and forth about which area sports franchises are and are not allowed to call themselves New York teams. It’s a stupid argument that ultimately goes nowhere. Either way it has no bearing on whether there should be a second MLS team for the area.
Because even if you don’t accept the New York moniker, the fact remains that the Red Bulls are the closest thing to a New York area MLS franchise–and one that is not supported anywhere near as well as it should be. Trying to fix that by adding a second team is like trying to fix a financial crisis by printing money and bailing out the institutions that caused the crisis in the first place. Oh wait, that’s exactly what just happened. Bad example.
2. “The Wilpons should be considered a tremendous asset.”
Now why is this exactly? These are the same people that thought Bernie Madoff was a great money manager. Doesn’t exactly speak for sound judgment, does it? But they did build the New York Mets into, uh, the New York Mets. Got anything else? More importantly, how exactly does this favor a second team in New York? I’m not getting the connection. But maybe that’s just me.
3. “There are no other ‘WOW’ bids for MLS expansion clubs”
Who said NYC2 was a “WOW” bid? Why does MLS need another team anyway? All but about three or four of the 16 it has now aren’t drawing well at all. But even if we accept that MLS absolutely needs to expand, how can you say that a place like St. Louis, which is very much the birthplace of American soccer (along with Kearny, N.J. and Bethlehem, Pa. and a few other places) is not more deserving of a franchise? And we’re not talking about putting a team in midtown Manhattan but Flushing, Queens. What’s so exciting about that? You want a real “WOW” bid? Put the team in Las Vegas!
4. “The Borough Boys”
For the uninitiated, this is the New York supporter group that is modeled after Philadelphia’s Sons of Ben. Supposedly this group has the power to create “groundswell needed to precipitate expansion.”
No matter your opinion of the Borough Boys, or on the accuracy of the previous statement, the comparison to the Sons of Ben is not quite apt. Reason being that NEW YORK ALREADY HAS A TEAM FOR THEM TO SUPPORT! Philadelphia did not.
5. “Long Island”
I swear I’m not making this up. To wit: “The logjam of New York traffic separates nearly seven and half million Long Islanders from attending matches.”
So let me see if I can get this straight. You’re arguing for a New York City expansion team because of (wait for it!) TRAFFIC?
Here’s a concept for Long Islanders and other suburbanites to learn about: It’s called public transportation. These are trains and buses that any citizen can take to get from point A to point B. There is something called the Long Island Railroad, which takes you directly to New York Penn Station, from where you can take the PATH train directly to Red Bull Arena! While this may lack the comfort of a private car, it is significantly cheaper and burns far fewer natural resources.
Because the Mayan calendar ends in 2012 and we’ll be so happy to be alive that we’ll want to put a second team in New York City. Or something.
7. “The existing team is named after an energy drink. An Austrian one.”
Okay, you got me here. This is about as distasteful as that swill they put in those weird little cans with the cows on it.
Sure they do this stuff in Europe; name teams after aspirin products and energy drinks and what-have-you. But in the U.S.? No chance. Unless of course you put them in a city where the majority of residents are foreign born and which has sizable expat communities from every nation imaginable. Not that a place like that exists, of course.
Seriously though, why does this necessitate another team in the area? Have Wilpon or whomever buy the team from its current owners and rechristen them the Cosmos or something if you really care so much. Instead of constructing a stadium in Queens, build a better rail connection to downtown Manhattan’s World Trade Center hub. That will have the additional benefit of being useful to society as a whole, unlike sports stadiums which invariably just make the team’s owners even richer while fleecing taxpayers. (If you don’t believe me I challenge you to find even one solitary example of a publicly-supported stadium that helped local businesses).
Didn’t we already cover this? Oh wait: “A train ride from Manhattan to Queens is much more realistic than one to Harrison.”
Actually, unless you live on the top of Grand Central Station, a train ride from Manhattan to Harrison is easier, faster, cheaper and more comfortable than one to Flushing, Queens (I really don’t think they’re going to build the stadium in Astoria or Long Island City). Whether that makes it realistic depends on your definition of the term. I suppose in Long Island they still view trains as some work of fiction.
9. “New York vs. New Jersey would make for a great rivalry”
Right, because when they put a second team in LA it turned into a huge rivalry between Chivas and the Galaxy. The current New York area MLS franchise already has a real rival though, based on actual history between the two teams: DC United. And MLS is trying to manufacture a second rivalry with Philadelphia.
Even so this argument is stupid. And not only because of the LA experiment. A rivalry between Toronto and Ottawa would surely be fierce, so should we put a team in Ottawa? What about New Orleans? They’d be a natural rival to Houston. Call it the Gulf of Mexico battle or something. Or what about Miami FC vs. Havana, Cuba? Now you’re talking rivalries! That would make the Old Firm look like a friendly.
10. “NYC does have a soccer tradition!”
Indeed it does. The Cosmos. Except wait: In their hayday, they played at Giants Stadium, which is not in New York City.
If you want to argue tradition, St. Louis is going to win this one, I’m afraid. The industrial parts of New Jersey, far more than NYC, was where soccer in the area first developed. And those areas are well represented by Harrison, thank you very much.