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Welcome to the Coop: Etihad Airlines Pre-Approved as NYCFC Stadium Name Sponsor. Citi Field and Yankee Stadium Games Still a Possibility
A look at the stadium design inspiration, an obvious name, and how NYCFC perhaps has not played its last game on a baseball field.
The renderings are here, the images are out. You can even see your future seat if you zoom in close enough. After years of anticipation, fans of New York City Football Club can finally get a glimpse of their team’s future home. Wednesday night, the long-awaited plans for a permanent home were unveiled when the club released the first set of renders for the new stadium at Willets Point. With stadium development efforts remaining on schedule for a targeted opening of Spring 2027, the move marks a significant milestone as the club looks to move on from its rotation of home venues.
During the presentation to Queens Community Board 7 unveiling the stadium renderings on Wednesday, a spokesperson for HOK, the architecture firm designing NYCFC’s stadium, outlined the four foundational questions that have guided the stadium’s design:
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What if a stadium reflects New York’s honesty and vibrancy?
What if a stadium is the community’s gravitational center?
What if a stadium can renew the heritage of the past?
What if a stadium represents our values?
HOK also considered how the stadium can serve as a contextual catalyst, enhancing the sense of place for visitors and residents alike. This involved asking questions like what the stadium means for first-time and returning visitors, and how it can contribute to the community's overall vitality. By grappling with these questions and incorporating the answers into their design, HOK strove to create a stadium that not only serves as a top-tier venue for soccer, but also as a valued asset for the community as a whole.
HOK emphasized the symbolic importance of “framing the pitch” since this will be the first professional soccer stadium built in the city proper. They went on to explain that the stadium’s design was inspired by this idea resulting in the stadium resembling a picture frame.
As NYCFC unveiled the sexy new renderings of its soccer-specific-stadium, which bear the placeholder “Sponsor Stadium”1, The Outfield learned unsurprisingly that Etihad Airways is expected to be the venue’s naming sponsor. According to the term sheet for the Willets Point Phase 1B project obtained by The Outfield, “Etihad Airways is pre-approved as the primary Stadium naming rights partner.”
The term sheet also discloses that the new stadium development may not be a goodbye to playing in baseball stadiums, but more of a “see you later”. According to the term sheet, the team may play up to three home matches a year outside of the new stadium even after the stadium is fully operational. The reason? NYCFC’s ability to leverage a “significantly larger seating capacity”. To do so, the team must first make “bona fide efforts to play at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, or any yet-to-be constructed stadium larger than 38,000 seats located within New York City”. While the team’s new 25,000-seat soccer-specific stadium at Willets Point will be their primary home, the possibility of playing at larger venues like Yankee Stadium or Citi Field could provide a boost in capacity for marquee matches like the Hudson River Derby or future MLS playoffs2.
Representatives from NYCFC did not respond to requests for comment.
The release of renderings is yet another key milestone along the project timeline for the targeted 2027 opening. As the development team approaches certification into ULURP in Fall 2023, NYCFC fans will have more details to look forward to. ❧
Image: Willets Point Stadium Project Rendering with Etihad Airlines Logo Pasted On
a notable update from the previous "Stadium Name"
MLS Playoff games were mentioned directly in the term sheet