Results tagged ‘ Randy Levine ’

New MSL soccer team to play at Stadium in 2015

Mariano Rivera was back at Yankee Stadium this week, but instead of appearing in the capacity of closer he was more of a starter. Rivera was introduced Monday as the first season-ticket holder of the Major League Soccer expansion team, NYCFC, which will play its first season of 2015 at the Stadium.

The franchise, which was created in a partnership between the Yankees and Manchester City of England’s Premier League, hopes to build a soccer-only facility in New York City eventually, but for the time being its 17-game home schedule will be in the Bronx.

“I’m proud to be the first one,” Rivera told a press conference gathering at the Stadium. “I’m used to being the closer, always the last one. I’m a starter now, so I’m happy to be No. 1 and a big supporter of the team.”

Manchester City and Liverpool will oppose each other at the Stadium in July, one of several matches that have been played at the Stadium in recent years. The Stadium has also been the site of the popular New Era Pinstripe Bowl as well as other college football games, National Hockey League matches featuring the Rangers, Islanders and Devils and musical concerts.

“I’ve always said that Yankee Stadium is the greatest place in the world,” Yankees president Randy Levine said. “Every athlete, every performer wants to play here. When we entered into the partnership with Manchester City, we said we were all in. And we are all in. To develop this franchise with this kind of management team, with all of us working together – these two great organizations – it’s going to be a championship franchise.”

The soccer field at the Stadium will run horizontally. The mound will have to be stripped each time NYCFC has a home game. The mound area will be just off the sideline, two feet and 10 inches off the field, and the closest corner will have eight feet and nine inches of clearance from the wall. The grounds crew will have to lay the field and strip it in time to re-lay the baseball diamond. Levine said the team has done its due diligence and believes the schedule won’t be a problem, and he’s excited about the prospect of top-class soccer.

Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost said the mound will be lifted up and stored each time the field is restructured and added that it is possible to use special lights to grow grass at night in order to ease the field rehabilitation process.

Capacity for baseball at the Stadium is 49,642 but is expected to be 33,444 for soccer because the grandstand and terraces will be closed off for most MSL home games.

“The field conversion takes about three days,” Trost said. “Could we do it in two and a half? Yeah, if we work around the clock. Taking the field and putting it back for baseball? Same thing. Three days, but we can push it in two and a half. We’re analyzing that when it comes to the schedule.”

Claudio Reyna, a native of Livingston, N.J., and the NYCFC’s director of football operations, said, “Growing up locally in New Jersey, I certainly never would’ve imagined that a professional
soccer team would be calling Yankee Stadium its home. Yankee Stadium has always felt like an institution to me. I can’t think of a more iconic place or venue for us to play our home games.”

“I’m thinking today I live a pretty charmed life,” said head coach Jason Kreis, the 1999 MSL Most Valuable Player who in his first stint as a coach led Real Salt Lake to the 2009 title. “I work for two of the greatest sports franchises in the world, and then I find out I get to coach soccer next year in one of the all-time greatest stadiums in the world. And I’ll be doing all this in the greatest city in the world. I’m extremely excited about the opportunity and very much looking forward to being out there on the sidelines next year.”

“It’s been no secret to anybody that our plans all along were to be in a first home while we pursued a deal to do a soccer-specific stadium in the five boroughs,” said Tim Pernetti, the former Rutgers athletic director and now the chief business officer for NYCFC. “We are continuing to do that. We’re conducting the same thorough search looking at sites and developing that plan. Our goal is to be in a soccer-specific building as soon as possible. At the same time, we’re not going to create artificial deadlines based on pressure that comes from different directions. We’re only going to get one shot to do that, so I think we’re going to take the time necessary to get it done.”

MLS will expand by two teams next season with New York and Orlando and will add Atlanta in 2017 and possibly Miami that year or the next.

“As you look at the league, it’s a great testament that this sport is continuing to grow dramatically all over the world,” Pernetti said. “The fact that there is an appetite from some of the most successful people in professional sports in the United States to continue its growth speaks volumes about where the league is headed. We’re taking our role in this thing very seriously. We’re going to create a great experience for our fans, create a great product on the field.”

Yanks to honor Mandela with plaque

Nelson Mandela Plaque
Nelson Mandela Plaque (NY Yankees)

The Yankees will honor the late Nelson Mandela with a plaque in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park in ceremonies prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Cubs as part of the Jackie Robinson Day tribute in which all players will don uniform No. 42.

The plaque will celebrate the former South African leader and commemorate his June 21, 1990 visit and address at the Stadium. On that historic day, Yankee Stadium was opened to fans, who were treated to musical performances from Richie Havens, Tracy Chapman, Mighty Sparrow and Judy Collins.

Mandela arrived at the Stadium at the end of the concert, following a day of meeting and addressing New Yorkers in various locations around the city. He spoke to the assembled crowd, then donned a Yankees cap and Yankees jacket and said, “You know who I am. I am a Yankee.” At the time of his appearance, Mandela was just four months removed from having spent 27 years in prison.

Scheduled to be on hand for a late-afternoon press conference at the Stadium were Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine, entertainer-activist Harry Belafonte, Zondwa Mandela (grandson of Nelson Mandela), George Monyemangene (South Africa Consul General), Sharon Robinson (daughter of Jackie Robinson) and Rev. Al Sharpton. Commissioner Bud Selig was to have attended the news conference, but he returned to Milwaukee after the originally scheduled ceremony was postponed due to Tuesday night’s rainout.

The Yankees’ first African-American player was Elston Howard, who made his major-league debut 59 years ago this week. He had 1-for-1 with one run batted in April 14, 1955 in an 8-4 loss at Boston.

Painful ending to Mariano’s special day

And so the farewell tour finally came to Yankee Stadium.

Mariano Rivera’s year-long sojourn throughout North America in his last major-league season has given him the opportunity to connect with fans and employees of all teams. Sunday at the Stadium was about recognition and appreciation from the people who have felt that way about him all of the past 19 seasons.

No franchise handles ceremonies such as these better than the Yankees. And more often than not, the team tops it off with a victory. Not this time, however. The script that should have called for Rivera saving the victory in Andy Pettitte’s last start at the Stadium did not materialize. The two pitchers who have combined for the most victories and saves as a tandem did not push the record total to 73 as the Giants pulled out a 2-1 victory that put the Yankees’ wild-card chances on life support.

“We’re still alive,” manager Joe Girardi said, “but this one hurt.”

It hurt in many ways, not just in the back-to-the-wall posture it placed the team in reference to a postseason berth but also in the aesthetic quality of a feel-good conclusion to a special day before a crowd of 49,197 on a postcard afternoon.

The Yankees pulled out all stops in the pregame ceremony for Rivera, the all-time saves leader who is closing out the career of the game’s greatest closer. After a proclamation from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was read declaring Sunday “Mariano Rivera Day,” members of the families of the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and the late Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson stood beside Mo for the unveiling of special plaques to honor the most distinguished player to wear uniform No. 42.

The plaque for Jackie Robinson marked the first in Monument Park for a player from another team. Jackie competed against the Yankees with the Brooklyn Dodgers in six World Series. When ‘42’ was retired in perpetuity in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier in the big leagues, players wearing the number at the time could keep it. Rivera was the last of those players, and his ‘42’ was retired and placed where Robinson’s blue-toned ‘42’ has been located.

“I didn’t know what to feel,” Rivera said. “At the monument they retired my number, so I guess I am officially retired.”

On the infield in front of the mound were collected many of the people Mo considered important to his career – senior vice president and special adviser Gene Michael, former manager Joe Torre, former trainer Gene Monahan and former teammates Jeff Nelson, David Cone, John Wetteland, Hideki Matsui, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada.

Current teammate Robinson Cano escorted Rachel and Sharon Robinson, Jackie’s widow and daughter, respectively, onto the field; longtime teammate Derek Jeter did likewise for Clara, Mariano Jr., Jafet and Jaziel, Mo’s wife and children. Performing on a bandstand on the center field warning track, Metallica belted out a live version of “Enter Sandman,” which has been his entrance theme since 1999, eight years after the song’s initial release.

Rivera walked to the mound rather than making his usual trot as the band played. The group also presented him with a custom speaker from a recent tour with a sign reading “No. 42 Sandman” on the front. Yankees team president Randy Levine, chief operating officer Lonn Trost and the Steinbrenner family presented Rivera with a $100,000 donation to his foundation.

Even the Giants got into the act. Pitching coach Dave Righetti, first base coach Roberto Kelly, batting coach Hensley “Bam-Bam” Meulens and assistant hitting coach Joe Lefebvre – all former Yankees – gave Rivera a water-color painting of him pitching at San Francisco’s AT&T Park and an electric guitar featuring the signature of Willie Mays imbedded on the front.

Girardi and Jeter on behalf of the players presented Mo with a rocking chair and a Waterford crystal replica of his glove.

Morock

Mariano Rivera rocks
(USA Today photo)

In addressing the crowd, Rivera got off a good line about his parents, “Thank you for having me that day or that night – I don’t know which – but gracias!” and then to the fans, “Thank for 19 years of support. You were always there for me and the organization, and I will never forget it.”

After paying tribute to his homeland of Panama and his adopted country of the United States (he lives year-round in Westchester County), Rivera said, “So let’s play ball, man. We got to go!”

Pettitte did his best to top the ceremony by flirting with a perfect game and no-hitter for five innings. He retired the first 14 batters before walking Pablo Santoval with two out in the fifth inning. Pettitte was still working on a no-no with one out in the sixth when rookie shortstop Ehire Adrianza hit his first career home run to tie the score. Mark Reynolds had homered off Giants starter Yusmeiro Petit (pronounced puh-TEET) leading off the third inning.

Pettitte admitted he thought about a no-hitter but admitted, “I don’t know if my body would allow me to pitch nine innings anymore.”

He lasted until the first batter in the seventh when Sandoval doubled. Rivera was up in the pen, but Girardi brought in David Robertson, who got the first out on a ground ball but hung a curve to Tony Abreu, who doubled to right to score what proved the deciding run. Rivera entered the game at that point and got out of the inning aided by a sliding catch in center field by Curtis Granderson. Mo worked a scoreless ninth as well and was intent on staying in the game until the Yankees won it.

They wasted a prime scoring opportunity in the eighth after getting runners on second and third with none out but both were subsequently thrown out at the plate. The Yankees went down in order in the ninth, so no victory for them or Rivera. A tough loss was hung on Pettitte, who unless he wins his final start later this week at Houston will have a losing record (10-11) for the first time in his career.

The Rays, Indians and Royals all won their games Sunday. The Yankees are four games behind Cleveland for the second wild-card spot with six to play, three of which will be against Tampa Bay at the Stadium beginning Tuesday night. They hope that series won’t be a farewell for the team in 2013.

Politics does not belong in 9/11

For Bobby Valentine to politicize Sept.11, 2001 is amazingly in awful taste. The greatest single tragedy in the history of New York City should not be something that somehow got thrown into the Yankees-Mets rivalry.

Valentine’s comments on WFAN Radio Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, had absolutely no basis in fact. His suggestion that the Yankees were derelict in devoting time and funds to the recovery efforts in the aftermath of the destruction of the Twin Towers was astoundingly off-base.

I covered that story on a daily basis during that time when I was the national baseball columnist for the Hartford Courant and was well aware of what representatives of both clubs did to show their support of the recovery efforts. There is no question that Valentine, then the manager of the Mets, flung himself into those efforts.

The parking lot at Shea Stadium was set up as a supply station immediately after the attacks because the Mets were out of town. Valentine and many Mets players, including current Yankees broadcaster Al Leiter, spent hours of their own time loading and unloading supplies from and on to trucks. And it was Mets shortstop Rey Ordonez who came up with the idea of wearing hats bearing logos of the New York Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Services.

I was also at Shea the night baseball was first played after the attacks and watched one of the most moving ceremonies before the Mets and the Braves took the field after embracing each other in the center of the diamond. Mike Piazza’s game-winning home run off Atlanta reliever Steve Karsay became one of the game’s most significant moments.

That said, the Yankees certainly did their part as well. I remember Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Chuck Knoblauch, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada and other players visiting firehouses and hospitals all over the city. The Yankees also had an emotional ceremony prior to the first game at Yankee Stadium after the attacks.

Somehow Valentine missed all that. Here is what he said on the radio Wednesday:

“Let it be said that during the time from 9/11 to 9/21, the Yankees were AWOL. You couldn’t find a Yankee on the streets of New York City. You couldn’t find a Yankee down at Ground Zero, talking to the guys who were working 24/7. Many of them didn’t live here, and so it wasn’t their fault. And many of them did not partake in all that, so there was some of that jealousy going around. Like, ‘Why are we so tired? Why are we wasted? Why have we been to the funerals and the firehouses, and the Yankees are getting all the credit for bringing baseball back?’ And I said, ‘This isn’t about credit, guys. This is about doing the right thing.’ ”

How hypocritical. As the Yankees proceeded past the end of the regular season into postseason play all the way to the World Series, they brought attention to New York’s recovery while the Mets’ season was over. We all remember the lump we had in our throats when President Bush threw that strike of a ceremonial first pitch at the Stadium. But it was not about the Yankees any more than it was about the Mets. It was about people of all stripes working together to bind the city’s and the nation’s wounds.

“Bobby Valentine should know better than to point fingers on a day like today,” Yankees president Randy Levine said. “[Sept. 11] is a day of reflection and prayer. The Yankees, as has been well documented, visited Ground Zero, the Armory, the Javits Center, St. Vincent’s Hospital and many other places during that time. We continue to honor the 9/11 victims and responders. On this day, he would have been better to have kept his thoughts to himself rather than seeking credit, which is very sad to me.”

ACC aligns with New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Would the late George Steinbrenner ever be excited about this? The New Era Pinstripe Bowl has grown in merely three years to the extent that it now has affiliations with two of the top college football conferences. The Yankees and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl announced Tuesday a multi-year partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The six-year affiliation between the two renowned brands includes the ACC’s commitment to play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl from 2014-19. Beginning in 2014, the ACC will face off against the Big Ten Conference, which entered into a multi-year partnership with the Yankees and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl June 3, in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

“The addition of the ACC to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, along with the Big Ten, will provide an annual matchup of some of college football’s top-tier programs,” Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “With outstanding institutions all along the East Coast as well as the Northeast, the ACC is an attractive participant and partner for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. We look forward to hosting the ACC, its fans and alumni in New York City for years to come during the holiday season.”

“The partnership between the ACC and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl makes sense on so many levels and we are extremely pleased that one of the league’s football teams will be showcased in this game annually,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said. “With our 15-member conference stretching along the entire Atlantic Coast, this will be a great opportunity for our fans and alums to connect in the media capital of world and with one of the most storied and successful franchises in sports.”

Yankees president Randy Levine called it a “phenomenal partnership” and that George Steinbrenner would be very pleased.

“Except for the Yankees, football was the Boss’ greatest passion,” Levine said. “He always believed college football would be a major success in the new Yankee Stadium. What we have done in just three years has been to have a bowl game that is second to none except for the Bowl Championship Series.”

And Levine did not rule out the possibility down the line that the Stadium could be the site of a BCS semifinal game or even the BCS title game itself.

Established in 2010, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl has featured some of the most memorable moments of bowl seasons in just three short years, including the exciting finish in the inaugural 2010 game in which Kansas State missed a game-tying two-point conversion in the final minute, and the record-setting 213-yard rushing performance by Syracuse’s Prince-Tyson Gulley in last year’s game.

The 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl featured six 2013 National Football League draft picks, including each of the game’s starting quarterbacks – Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib (Giants) and West Virginia’s Geno Smith (Jets).

The 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, a 38-14 Syracuse victory over West Virginia, recorded a 3.9 household coverage rating. For bowls played prior to New Year’s Day, only the Chick-fil-A Bowl (5.6) and the Alamo Bowl (4.8) recorded better overall ratings. After drawing a 2.5 total rating in 2011, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl’s 56-perecent ratings increase was second largest for all bowls on ESPN this past season through Jan. 1, 2013. Only the Armed Forces Bowl (+62%) bested the New Era Pinstripe Bowl for largest HH increase in 2012 vs. 2011.

Additionally, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl has seen increased attendance each of its first three years of existence, including a record 41,203 in 2012.

“The New Era Pinstripe Bowl in its short history has featured great match-ups and delivered exciting football to fans,” New Era chief executive officer Christopher H. Koch said. “The addition of the Atlantic Coast Conference takes this event to the next level.”

The 2013 New Era Pinstripe Bowl will take place Saturday, Dec. 28, and be nationally televised by ESPN, which has also secured national and local radio rights for ESPN Radio. Fans are encouraged to visit newerapinstripebowl.com, the official website of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, for access to up-to-the-moment information regarding the game and to sign up to volunteer.

In the week prior to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl game, players, coaches and university staff take part in a variety of events, showcasing their respective universities to the New York metropolitan area. Special events, promotions and community outreach will take place throughout New York City during the week of the bowl game to create an unforgettable experience for fans, families, players and staffs of the two teams.

Prior to the inception of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in 2010, the last college football bowl game had been played in the Bronx in 1962 when Nebraska edged Miami (Fla.), 36-34, in the Gotham Bowl at the original Yankee Stadium.

The Atlantic Coast Conference, now in its 60th year of competition, has long enjoyed the reputation as one of the strongest and most competitive intercollegiate conferences in the nation. Since the league’s inception in 1953, ACC schools have captured 127 national championships – 67 in women’s competition and 60 in men’s. In addition, NCAA individual titles have gone to ACC student-athletes 146 times in men’s competition and 102 times in women’s action.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl partners up with Big Ten

The Yankees and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl announced Monday a partnership with the Big Ten Conference. The eight-year affiliation will cover the period from 2014 through 2021 marks the first bowl tie-in for the conference on the East Coast where it has recently expanded with the additions of Rutgers and Maryland.

“The Big Ten Conference playing college football at Yankee Stadium is something I know my father would have been proud to see come to fruition,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “Welcoming a national powerhouse conference like the Big Ten to participate in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl and partner with the New York Yankees for years to come only expands the prestige of our great annual bowl game in New York City.”

Former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner’s interest in Big Ten football extended to his taunting shortstop Derek Jeter, who attended the University of Michigan, whenever Ohio State defeated the Wolverines. As Hal Steinbrenner pointed out in Monday’s news conference at the Stadium his mother attended Ohio State and his father coached football at Northwestern and Purdue.

“Our family has a strong Big Ten connection,” he said.

“Once we saw the success of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl it became obvious – especially with the Big Ten’s growing East Coast footprint – that being in the media capital of the world at one of sports’ most renowned venues was a natural pairing,” Big Ten commissioner James Delany said. “By agreeing to an eight-year partnership, it increases the likelihood that most of the Big Ten schools will have the opportunity to participate in the game while giving our coaches, student athletes, administrators and fans the opportunity to experience the nation’s biggest metropolis and an iconic setting like Yankee Stadium.”

Established in 2010, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl has featured some of the most memorable moments of bowl seasons in a short period, including the inaugural 2010 game in which Kansas State missed a potential game-tying, two-point conversion in the final minute and the record-setting 208-yard rushing performance by Syracuse’s Prince-Tyson Gulley in last year’s game.

The 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl featured six 2013 National Football League draft picks, including each of the game’s starting quarterbacks – Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib (Giants) and West Virginia’s Geno Smith (Jets).

“A lot of people were skeptical at the beginning, but in three years it has been a great success,”
Yankees president Randy Levine said of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. “There is no better place during the holiday season than New York City. They make movies and write songs about New York at that time of year. We thank the Big 12 for its involvement, but the Big 10 is much more geographically suited for us. The Boss is smiling tonight.”

Syracuse’s 38-14 victory over West Virginia recorded a 3.9 household rating. For bowls played prior to New Year’s Day, only the Chick-fil-A Bowl (5.6) and the Alamo Bowl (4.8) had better overall ratings. After drawing a 2.5 total rating in 2011, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl’s 56-percent ratings increase was the second largest for all bowls on ESPN this past season through Jan. 1, 2013. Only the Armed Forces Bowl (plus 62 percent) bested the New Era Pinstripe Bowl for the largest ratings increase from 2011 to 2012.

In addition, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl has had increased attendance in each of its first three years with a record crowd of 41,203 in 2012.

“As we continue to build equity in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, partnering with the Big Ten Conference will bring a whole new level of premier talent to this event,” New Era chief executive officer Christopher Koch said. “We’re excited to have such a prestigious conference on board.”

The 2013 New Era Pinstripe Bowl will take place Saturday, Dec. 28. It will be national televised by ESPN, which has also secured national and local radio rights for ESPN Radio. Fans are encouraged to visit newerapinstriplebowl.com, the game’s official website, for access to up-to-the-moment information and sign up to volunteer.

In the week before the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, players, coaches and university staff take part in a variety of events, showcasing their respective universities to the New York metropolitan area. Special events, promotions and community outreach will take place throughout New York City during the week of the bowl game.

Prior to the inception of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in 2010, the last college football game that had been played in the Bronx was in 1962 when Nebraska edged Miami (Fla.), 36-34, in the Gotham Bowl at the original Yankee Stadium.

New York City FC hires 1st employee

Claudio Reyna became the first employee of New York City Football Club by being named director of football Wednesday. Reyna will be responsible for building the soccer elements of the New York City FC organization, including the recruitment of players, coaches and trainers, and other support staff, in preparation for the team’s inaugural Major League Soccer season in 2015.

The announcement took place at PS 72 (Lexington Academy) in East Harlem, which boasts the city’s only rooftop soccer field and was donated by Manchester City Football Club in 2010. This facility provides quality soccer instruction and programming to thousands of children in 20 city public schools each year.

New York City FC, the MLS expansion team, was unveiled Tuesday as part of a partnership of two global sports powers, the Yankees and Manchester City FC. The Club will become MLS’s 20th team. Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and president Randy Levine represented the Yankees.

In announcing the appointment of Reyna, Manchester City chief executive officer Ferran Soriano noted Reyna’s significant contributions to soccer in the United States, both as a player and in his position as youth technical director of the U.S. Soccer Federation, a post he has held since 2010.

“Finding the right person for this role and getting him in place from the start was a priority,” Soriano said. “The football culture of New York City FC will be built from this decision, and we believe Claudio is the man who uniquely understands what New York soccer should mean, and how it can benefit from the relationship with Manchester City FC.”

“Having had the privilege of playing both for my country here in the U.S. and for Manchester City FC in England, I could not have hoped for a more tailored-made opportunity in soccer,” Reyna said. “I am incredibly excited to again wear City’s ‘Sky Blue’ as part of the expansion of the MLS and the growth of soccer in the United States, and am honored to have been offered this opportunity. With a large fan base through the New York area, prime television rights and distribution, sponsorship commitments, and the Yankees as a U.S. partner, the New York City Football Club has everything in place to succeed.”

New York City FC will be an independent club that mirrors and benefits from its relationship with Manchester City Football Club, allowing both organizations to collaborate on community programs and other team aspects, such as global youth development and scouting, coaching, sports science and first team football operations. Reyna will work closely with Manchester City’s Brian Marwood, managing director of City Football Academy; Txiki Begiristain, director of football, and World Cup winner Patrick Vieira, head of elite development squad.

Reyna had an illustrious professional career as a player in Europe and the U.S. for more than 12 years, including at Manchester City FC from 2003-2007. The two-time Olympian represented the U.S. National team in four World Cups from 1994 through 2006 and was team captain in 2002 and 2006.

Yanks, Manchester FC get MLS franchise

The Yankees are enhancing their commitment to big-time soccer. Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber announced Tuesday that a partnership of global sports powers, the Yankees and Manchester City Football Club, has acquired the League’s 20th expansion club. The team will be named New York City Football Club and expects to begin play in 2015.

“We proudly welcome two of the most prestigious professional global sports organizations to Major League Soccer,” Garber said. “This is a transformational development that will elevate the league to new heights in this country. The New York area is home to more than 19 million people, and we look forward to an intense crosstown rivalry between New York City Football Club and the New York Red Bulls that will captivate this great city.”

“New York is a legendary sports town, as well as a thriving global city with a rapidly expanding soccer fan-base,” said Manchester FC chief executive officer Ferran Soriano, who will oversee the process of filling top New York City FC leadership positions in the weeks to come. “We are thrilled to contribute to the energy and growth of New York City Soccer. In the Yankees, we have found the absolute best partner for developing a world-class sports organization and a winning team that will carry the New York City Football Club name with pride.”

Manchester City will be the majority owner of the new Club. As an investor, the Yankees will be an active member of the ownership group. The Yankees and Manchester City Football Club have an existing commercial relationship through Legends Hospitality, LLC, an international entertainment, hospitality and marketing organization. Yankee Stadium will be the site of a “friendly” match Saturday between Manchester City and Chelsea FC.

“We are pleased to be associated with this major move by MLS to increase its presence in the New York market and to enhance the opportunity for New York soccer fans to enjoy high-level play in their own city,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “We look forward to the opportunity to work with Manchester City to create something very special for the soccer fans of New York and to bringing another terrific team to this city for all sports fans to enjoy. Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees, will be the point person in leading the effort to launch and establish the team on behalf of the organization.”

The New York/New Jersey area is one of North America’s most vibrant and proud soccer communities. The region has filled stadiums for countless marquee soccer events including the 1994 FIFA Men’s World Cup, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, three MLS All-Star Games and numerous international exhibition matches. NYCFC will become the first MLS club whose home will be located within the five boroughs, joining the Red Bulls as the second MLS club in the metropolitan area.

“Soccer is one of the world’s most exciting and popular sports, and it should be played on the world’s biggest stage – in New York City,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said. “New Yorkers are the greatest sports fans in the world, and they will welcome a Major League Soccer franchise with the full-throated and loyal support they are famous for.

“Manchester City has a great reputation for both winning teams and serious community investment, and that will help them fit in well with the excellent leadership of New York City’s other professional sports teams. Increasingly, sports events and activities from the NHL playoffs to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game to the Super Bowl are spurring economic growth as our investments in new arenas and infrastructures are paying off.”

New York City FC is committed to seeking a new permanent stadium in New York. Until that time, the new team is arranging to play in an interim home beginning in its inaugural MLS season in 2015. Over the past year, MLS began discussions with the City of New York and other stakeholders about the possibility of constructing a new stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. The Club’s new management will continue these discussions with local government officials, community residents and businesses, soccer leagues, and MLS. The Club will continue to review other potential sites as well.

“New York City FC will have a permanent home in the City in the great traditions of New York sports and world soccer, a home that must be a sports, commercial and civic success,” Soriano said. “But in considering any stadium site, we will listen first. This is what we have always done in Manchester and what we will do in New York. Only in this way, can the Club truly represent the City whose name it will carry.

Manchester City is a leader among sports organizations in its charitable efforts, with one-sixth of its staff fully dedicated full-time to community outreach. Building on this tradition of community outreach, New York City FC will expand and enhance the grassroots youth soccer program “City Soccer in the Community,” which it has been running in New York since 2010.

The program, now headquartered at PS 72 (Lexington Academy) in East Harlem, which boasts New York City’s only rooftop soccer field, provides quality soccer instruction and programming to thousands of children in 20 city public schools each year. New York City FC plans to expand its community outreach to bring soccer to thousands of more kids throughout the five boroughs.

Manchester City has funded the construction of soccer facilities for youth in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C. Since new ownership took over five years ago, Manchester City has gained its place as one of England’s most successful football clubs and one of the fastest growing clubs in the world. Last spring, Manchester City won the 2012 Barclay’s Premier League Championship. This year it finished second in the League and was the FA Cup runner-up. Manchester City FC is wholly owned by the Abu Dhabi United Group.

The Yankees, of course, are baseball’s most storied franchise with 27 World Series titles and 40 American League pennants.

Headquartered in New York, Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in North America. MLS’s 18th season features 19 clubs each playing 34 regular-season matches. The clubs are Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo; 2012 MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy, Montreal Impact, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Pinstripe Bowl charity golf outing May 20

The New York Yankees Foundation will be the host of the third annual New York Yankees/New Era Pinstripe Bowl charity golf tournament, sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, Monday, May 20, at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y.

Net proceeds from the event will benefit the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Pediatric Cancer Center, Tourette Syndrome Association of Central New Jersey, Boomer Esiason Foundation Fighting Cystic Fibrosis and UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation. More than 400 individuals have participated in the tournament the past two years, and in excess of $200,000 has been raised for charity.

Registration and lunch will begin at 11:30 a.m., followed by a 1:30 p.m. shotgun start for the scramble-format tournament. A cocktail reception, dinner and an awards presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m. For more information, fans can call (646) 977-8400.

This year’s event includes Yankees alumni and broadcasters, football Giants alumni and select head coaches from Big East football and basketball teams.

Among those scheduled to attend are Yankees president Randy Levine; general manager Brian Cashman; former Yankees players Ralph Branca, David Cone, John Flaherty, Ron Guidry, Pat Kelly, Lee Mazzilli and Mickey Rivers; former Giants players Mark Bavaro, Luke Petitigout and Amani Toomer; Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood; Syracuse University athletic director Dr. Darryl Gross; Syracuse head football coach Scott Shafer; Princeton head basketball coach Mitch Henderson; CBS sportscaster Don Criqui; WABC-TV weatherman Bill Evans; Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum, ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer; WPLJ Radio personality Scott Shannon and New Era Cap Company chief executive officer Chris Koch.

Westchester Country Club offers two championship golf courses and a nine-hole executive course. The West Course continues to be a regular location for professional golf events, including the Westchester Classic, Buick Classic and most recently, The Barclays, the first of four stops on the FedEx Tour. Westchester Country Club was also the site of the Senior Players Championship in 2011.

The New Era Pinstripe Bowl will take place Saturday, Dec. 28, at Yankee Stadium, pitting a team from the Big East Conference against a representative from the Big 12 Conference.

Combat veterans to be honored Sunday

The Yankees will honor former Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey and Sgt. Rex, the bomb-sniffing German shepherd who was her combat partner during two tours of duty in Iraq, Sunday at Yankee Stadium in a Mother’s Day ceremony prior to the finale of the three-game Yankees-Mariners series.

In 2006, following more than 100 missions with each other, Leavey and Red were both injured by a roadside bomb in Ramadi, Iraq. They underwent a year of rehabilitation together at Camp Pendleton in California. Rex was eventually called back into active service. Leavey, a Purple Heart recipient, was honorably discharged because of her injuries. Leavey subsequently adopted Rex in April after he was retired from service.

A Marine Corps Honor Guard and the New York Police Department Pipes and Drums band will be on hand for the ceremony that is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Right fielder Nick Swisher will present the former Marine with a jersey signed by the entire Yankees team. Yankees president Randy Levine and third baseman Alex Rodriguez will participate in a series of presentations to celebrate Leavey’s dedicated service to her country and the love and loyalty she has shown to her combat partner, Rex.

Ticket holders are urged to arrive at the Stadium no later than 12:15 p.m. to be in position to view the ceremony prior to the 1:05 p.m. game.

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