NEW YORK – It turns out that baseball's legendary New York Yankees have been approached several times over the years about getting involved in soccer, including by English Premier League clubs.
But they never said yes until now.
On Tuesday, Major League Soccer announced that the Yankees and EPL side Manchester City had teamed up to acquire the league's 20th club, New York City FC. The Yankees were announced as minority owners.
"We've had a lot of people come to us over the years but to have this opportunity is really exciting," Yankees president Randy Levine said after the announcement.
Manchester City, who will be playing at Yankee Stadium against Chelsea in an exhibition game this weekend, has had a relationship with the New York Yankees through their Legends Hospitality entertainment arm, which services Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.
When the chance came to partner on an expansion team in New York City, the baseball team jumped at the opportunity, and Levine confirmed on Tuesday that his organization's involvement is a very recent development, although he wouldn't specify the timeframe.
"We do work for them over in this stadium and we think they're terrific people and very competent people, and we feel this combination is going to be very powerful," Levine said. "We want to work together with them to make this a world-championship franchise.
"We're the New York Yankees, and we have the opportunity to partner with a lot of people. It requires special people to partner with us, and we think they are."
So how will the partnership work? The Yankees will look to contribute where they're strongest.
"They're the soccer experts, but we can add a lot through our brand and knowing how to do business here in New York City and making this successful," Levine said. "Everything we do has to be world-championship caliber, and this will be as well."
Levine said that late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and the Steinbrenner family "have been longtime soccer fans" and the chance to be part of MLS is "a great opportunity."
"What we do is sports and entertainment and this fits right in," Levine said. "It's in our hometown and this works."