NYCFC Stadium on Randall Island? It might work.

Randall’s Island is a football island. Anyone who has played amateur or junior football in New York has probably been in one of over 30 fields found there and on neighboring Wards Island at some point, whether it be playing, training, refereeing, volunteering or supporting. New York City lacks open space and playgrounds, and Randall’s Island offers both in abundance.

It may come as a surprise to see so much football in one place, especially in a city where other sports dominate the headlines, with two teams each from the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, but Randalls Island is full of it. It’s almost like a football heritage.

Rumor has it that New York City Football Club is considering turning the island’s Icahn Stadium into a temporary home, while the club is building a long-promised football stadium (which other rumors may be in Harlem River Yards in South Bronx). . There’s a pressing need: Apple TV’s $2.5 billion MLS deal calls for all games to be played on Saturdays or Wednesdays starting next year, which may not be possible for the NYCFC given the club plays most of its games at the stadium Yankee or Citi Field, and must work on schedules yankees and Metz.

The temporary stadium will not only allow NYCFC to meet schedule requirements in 2023, it also raises a number of challenges, but it also opens up interesting opportunities for an area that is already entrenched in the sport.

Icahn Stadium was named after financier Carl Icahn, who donated $10 million out of a total cost of $45 million. construction of a track and field complex of the international standard of the world level (its running track is certified by the IAAF class 1). With this in mind, it is likely that it will remain a venue for athletics along with any other sports it will be used for in the future. already used for lacrosse), but even with its high-quality circuit, few would object to the venue itself getting a facelift – something the NYCFC could help with.

The stadium is in a public park and it makes no sense to limit the facility to athletics. Icahn Stadium itself was built on the site of the 22,000-seat Downing Stadium, which hosted numerous sports, including the New York Cosmos and New York Centaurs football teams. Among the football history in this stadium is an international football match. between the US and England May 27, 1964 and Pelé’s New York debut for Cosmos in 1975.

Santos Pelé, 1966 US Champions Cup

UNITED STATES – AUG 21: Football: US Champions Cup, Santos F, C, Pelé (10) in action against C, L, Benfica at Randall Island, NY, August 21, 1966. (Photo by Tony Triolo/Sports Illustrated via Getty images)
SetNumber: X11846

Downing Stadium has also hosted concerts, including performances by the Ramones and the Beastie Boys, so events can be organized on the island with access for a large number of spectators if desired.

If anything, the facility is currently underutilized and, as an area that is already part of the city’s rich football and cultural history, resurrecting it as a mixed-use venue will simply bring it back to its roots.

Football fitness and size

Football fields with running tracks around them are not ideal as this means the fans can be further away from the action, but they are not uncommon in world football. In addition, the track is a minor inconvenience to NYCFC fans who are used to watching games at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, where some sections have diagonal sight lines and gaps between the stands and the field.

Icahn Stadium football Randalls Island

Icahn Stadium and adjacent football field
James Nalton

Regarding the size of the playing surface, NYCFC fans are already familiar with the minimum requirements for a football field, but as a reminder, the MLS states: “The playing field will be at least 70 yards (60 m) wide by 110 yards (100.6 m) long.” .

According to Google Maps, the field at Icahn Stadium already exceeds the required dimensions. There is also a large football pitch at one end of this stadium, which in itself could be useful as part of the club’s plans to invest in this area.

Icahn Stadium field size


Icahn Stadium football field size


While rumors of a redevelopment of the pitch are currently seen as a temporary option, if done right, the club will have the opportunity to leave a lasting positive impression on football and the city’s sports facilities in general. But it should be development and inclusion, not invasion. Randalls Island would be ideal for more regular football in the city, maybe NYCFC II games or US Open Cup matches and can be used by local high schools and colleges.

This is not the first time a football stadium has been offered on this site. Two years ago, Garo Gumusyan Architects proposed replacing Yichang Stadium with a football stadium closer to the waterfront. it will be connected to East Harlem by a new bridge, making facilities more accessible to underserved areas. However, the proposal did not take into account the importance of the treadmill, suggesting that it was “little different from the treadmills found in numerous lots throughout the city”.

Garo Gumusyan Architects proposed to build a football stadium on Randall’s Island and connect a bridge between the island and East Harlem.
Garo Gumusyan Architects

The architect’s impression of their plans (above) also looked like it had invaded the Hell’s Gate salt marsh, which is one of the only freshwater wetlands in the city and must be preserved at all costs in order to conserve and protect the environment, and because it is much of the charm of the island.

However, such ideas could be useful if the NYCFC wants to do something similar, albeit less radical and intrusive, on the island.

Access issues and opportunities

Randall’s Island has pedestrian links to three of the city’s five boroughs. Reflecting this, the stadium was once known as Triborough Stadium (and formerly Municipal Stadium before it was renamed Downing Stadium in honor of John J. Downing.director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, in 1955), and passes through what is still often referred to as the Triborough Bridge (although it was officially renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in 2008).

Manhattan and Queens from the Wards Island Bridge

Manhattan and Queens from the Wards Island Bridge
James Nalton

The most attractive of these paths is the Wards Island Footbridge, which connects the island to Manhattan on the south side of East Harlem. Another track passes under the Randalls Island Connecting Railroad Bridge in the Bronx, and along the vehicular bridges there are also walkways to Astoria, Queens, and North East Harlem in Manhattan.

All of these footpaths are suitable for experienced urban walkers, and the Wards Island Bridge could be one of the most attractive walkways to a world football game, but overall transportation and accessibility needs to be improved if this is to be a viable option as a home. for the city’s Major League football team.

As shown above, there were plans to improve public transport, including a station at Randalls Island. The Triborough Line, a proposed conversion of existing rail links that run between the north Bronx and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn into an overhead passenger rail line that would become part of the subway system, has once again strengthened the connection to the three boroughs. But the scope of the project was limited, and now it must pass between Astoria, Queens and Bay Ridge. It even has a new name to reflect its limited ambitions – Interborough Express.

The original idea to include a stop at Randalls Island would have been ideal for the upgraded stadium. Isn’t it too optimistic to think that NYCFC’s work on the island and the possibility of thousands of people coming there on game days could give rise to a return to the original plans and help the Bronx? He may even offer another route from the south of the city to Yankee Stadium with a transfer at Hunts Point.

All this can be seen as an opportunity, not a problem. Indeed, the entire island is a public park and a facility that NYCFC can invest in, which already has a good track record in urban communities. Already in the club held football matches there.

Upgrading existing facilities and providing access to them will not only benefit the club and its fans in terms of attracting fans to the island for games, but also the thousands of other people who use these parks and fields for recreational games, minor league football and other sports. like baseball and tennis.

If NYCFC continues to operate with its original “five boroughs, one city” slogan and #ForCity movement, Randalls Island would be an ideal base to support the city as well as build support within the city. Even if it’s not a website in ultimately a permanent home football stadium, it could certainly be the home of football in New York. In many ways, this is already the case, and has been for decades.

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