NEW YORK – Ferran Soriano is no stranger to New York City. And he certainly knows a thing or two about real estate in the five boroughs by now.
After all, the New York City FC and Manchester City FC CEO (above) has spent plenty of time in the city over the past year searching for a permanent home for the league’s 20th franchise, which has already said it will spend its debut year in 2015 in a temporary venue.
So far, though, he hasn't found anything. At least not that he'll talk about publicly.
Despite reports at the end of last year about a proposed 28,000-seat stadium south of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Soriano said there is not a primary site for planned development at the moment, declining to elaborate on the current locations in play.
“I think on this we have to go back to the basics, which is: We’re looking for a home, not for a place to play,” Soriano said on Friday following Jason Kreis's introductory press conference. “This is very important and it drives everything that we do. A home means we want a place where we can build a building. it’s got to make commercial sense but it makes civic sense. We have to be accepted and wanted by the community.
“This is why the first thing that we do is listen,” he added. “We’ll keep on working with the city, looking at several sites. At this point, there is not complete information that we can give about any site. It’s still open.”
The club is actively looking at opportunities outside the Bronx, according to Soriano, but the Yankees parntership continues to make that borough an attractive proposition.
“If we could play in the Bronx, it would be excellent," he said.
However, a municipal administration shift has thrown a new wrinkle into the club’s efforts in the Bronx. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken proponent of the project, made way for new mayor Bill de Blasio on Jan. 1. In December, a de Blasio spokesperson told The New York Times that the newly elected mayor was not in favor of the proposed Bronx stadium plan because it entailed tax breaks, the sale or lease of public land and public financing.
But when asked whether or not he has any concerns about working with the de Blasio administration, Soriano emphasized the club’s commitment to serving the community – no matter who is in charge.
“No concern. We’re looking forward to working with the new elected officials,” he said. “Whatever we do, we’ll be doing in the interest of the club and the city.”
NYCFC director of soccer Claudio Reyna joined Soriano in expressing confidence that “we’ll find a home for this team in one of the boroughs.” He also said the club was “still in discussions” about where they’ll play in 2015.
However, there could be definitive news regarding a training facility this month, according to Reyna, who added that the club is looking at sites outside the city but still in the state of New York.
“We are very close to making an announcement with that," he said. "We feel – Jason and I – that that’s as important [as the stadium]. When you talk to coaches and players, that’s your home. That’s where you spend all your time, and that training facility is as critical as the stadium. We have a couple of options that we’re exploring.”