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MLS announces 20th expansion team; New York City FC to join league in 2015

Published: Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:30 a.m. MDT

NYC FC will start play at an interim venue. New Yankee Stadium hosted its first two soccer matches last summer and is the site of an exhibition Saturday between Manchester City and Chelsea. The original Yankee Stadium was the home of the North American Soccer League's New York Cosmos in 1976.

"Yankee Stadium is an option, as are many places," Levine said.

The new team is intended to spark a rivalry with the New York Red Bulls, an original MLS team from 1996 that in 2010 moved into a 25,000-seat, $200 million stadium in in Harrison, N.J.

"The Red Bulls now will have a rival here in the market providing them with that derby-like competition that is such a driver of what makes football so successful around the world," Garber said.

There is a chance NYC FC can serve as a farm team for Manchester City, which in 2012 won its first Premier League title since 1968. Young players unable to break into the Man City squad could be loaned to the MLS team.

"I think naturally it will happen, that some Manchester players will end up playing in New York," Soriano said. "But the objective and the focus will be to try to find the right players for the New York team. The New York team is a team on its own."

The Yankees have long explored soccer deals. A partnership with Manchester United was announced in 2001, but that turned into a now-expired licensing and broadcasting agreement in which the clubs sold each other's licensed goods and exchanged television programming. The Yankees' YES Network has broadcast Arsenal games on a delayed basis since October 2010 — the same month the parent company of the rival Boston Red Sox took control of Liverpool in the Premier League.

Legends Hospitality, co-owned by the Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and Checketts Partners Investment Fund, will run hospitality and catering at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium next season under a partnership with Jamie Oliver's Fabulous Feasts that was announced in January. Legends already has started work on premium seat sales.

Levine downplayed his verbal sparring with Garber four years ago, which followed the MLS commissioner's comments about empty premium seats at the new New York baseball stadiums. Levine said then "if he ever gets Major League Soccer into the same time zone as the Yankees, we might take him seriously."

"Don and I are old friends," Levine said Tuesday. "What's a little fun between friends?"

With the decision completed on team No. 20, MLS can turn attention to No. 21.

Former Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham, retiring as a player this weekend, has an option to buy an MLS expansion team at below cost. Miami appears to be a possible market for Beckham, and groups would like to bring the league to Atlanta and Orlando, Fla.

"It's just premature," Garber said. "Clearly we've got to finalize a long-term expansion plan for the league."

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