The iconic ballpark was configured for MLS soccer well in advance of the Major League Baseball season, which opens in April. That meant prepping the turf for play — something that wouldn’t normally be done in New York City in March — as well as laying down sod on the infield and part of the warning track. The pitching mound was gone as well. Part of the challenge lies in using a facility meticulously engineered for baseball would work well for professional soccer. (It’s one thing to use a football stadium for soccer; it’s another to use a baseball-specific facility.) And then there are some other logistical issues: with only two clubhouses, the visiting clubhouse is pressed into service as the NYC FC home clubhouse. From The New York Times:
In something of a marriage of convenience, N.Y.C.F.C. will couch-crash with the Yankees, who are minority owners of the team, until a suitable spot is found and their own stadium is built. For the short (and possibly long) term — no announcement of a deal for a soccer-specific venue appears imminent — Yankee Stadium will unfurl a soccer field every few weeks, fitting it from first base to the left-field wall.
The time share between a soccer team, which will slide and tackle and crash about the grass, and a baseball team, which prefers its playing surface as smooth as a pool table, is causing some angst. Fans and Yankees players have grumbled about the arrangement, though it has gone off without a hitch for annual midsummer soccer exhibitions in recent years. (Concerts do far more damage to the playing surface, according to Yankees players and officials.)
The clubs insist the damage and the disruption will be manageable, though at this point they have little choice: The conversion, which takes several days, will happen at least 17 times, given that the Major League Baseball season falls within the March-to-October calendar of the 34-game M.L.S. regular season.
Turf would seem to be the biggest issue here, and that’s an issue that can be addressed with constant attention and TLC: turf managers can do amazing things these days. (Like presenting a very good turf for today’s match, despite the harsh winter.) The issue will be keeping the attention of fans over the long haul: winning will certainly help in New York City,