Randall’s Island is a soccer island. Anybody concerned in beginner or youth soccer in New York Metropolis is more likely to have been at one of many greater than 30 fields discovered there and at adjoining Wards Island in some unspecified time in the future, whether or not enjoying, teaching, refereeing, volunteering, or supporting. New York Metropolis is starved for open area and enjoying fields, and Randall’s Island supplies each in abundance.
It may be a shock to see a lot soccer in a single place, particularly in a metropolis the place different sports activities dominate the headlines, with two groups in every of the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB, however Randalls Island is filled with it. It is virtually a soccer heritage website.
Rumors are circulating that New York Metropolis FC are contemplating upgrading the island’s Icahn Stadium into a short lived residence whereas the membership builds a long-promised soccer-specific stadium (which, in line with different rumors, could be in Harlem River Yards within the South Bronx) . There is a urgent want: Apple TV’s $2.5 billion cope with MLS stipulates that every one video games should be performed on Saturdays or Wednesdays beginning subsequent 12 months, which could show unimaginable for NYCFC provided that the membership performs most of their video games at Yankee Stadium or Citi Subject, and should work across the schedules of the Yankees and the Mets.
A short lived stadium wouldn’t solely enable NYCFC to satisfy the scheduling necessities in 2023, it throws up numerous points but additionally thrilling alternatives for an space that’s already entrenched on this sport.
Icahn Stadium was named for financier Carl Icahn, who donated $10 million of the general $45 million price of developing a observe and subject facility of a world, world-class commonplace (its working observe is IAAF Class 1 licensed). With this in thoughts, it is doubtless it should stay an athletics venue alongside some other sports activities it’s used for sooner or later (it has already been used for Lacrosse), however even with its high-quality observe, few could be in opposition to the venue itself receiving a facelift—one thing NYCFC might assist with.
The stadium is situated in a public park, and it is unnecessary to restrict the ability to trace and subject. Icahn Stadium itself was constructed on the positioning of the 22,000-seat Downing Stadium, which hosted quite a few sports activities in addition to athletics — together with the New York Cosmos and New York Centaurs soccer groups. Among the many soccer historical past at this stadium are a world soccer match between the US and England on Might 27, 1964, and Pelé’s New York debut for the Cosmos in 1975.
Downing Stadium additionally hosted concert events, together with performances by the Ramones and the Beastie Boys, so occasions involving entry for large-ish numbers of spectators will be organized on the island if there may be the desire to take action.
If something, the ability is being underused for the time being, and as an space that’s already a part of the town’s wealthy soccer and cultural historical past, reviving it as a multi-use venue would merely be returning it to its roots.
Soccer Suitability & Measurement
Soccer fields with working tracks round them aren’t ideally suited because it means followers will be additional away from the motion, however they don’t seem to be unusual in world soccer. In addition to, a observe is a small inconvenience for NYCFC followers accustomed to watching video games at Yankee Stadium and Citi Subject, the place there are diagonal sightlines and gaps between the stands and the sector in some sections.
By way of the scale of the enjoying floor, NYCFC followers will already be accustomed to the minimal necessities for a soccer subject, however for a reminder, MLS states that: “The enjoying subject will probably be at a minimal 70 yards (60m) broad by 110 yards (100.6m) lengthy.”
In line with Google Maps, the sector at Icahn Stadium is already over the required dimensions. There may be additionally a bigger soccer pitch at one finish of this stadium which can itself be helpful as a part of the membership’s plans to speculate on this space.
Although the rumored renovation of the sector is seen as a short lived choice for the time being, if carried out properly it is a chance for the membership to go away a constructive lasting impression on soccer, and sports activities services typically, within the metropolis. But it surely must be improvement and inclusion somewhat than an intrusion. Randalls Island could be a perfect location for extra common soccer video games within the metropolis, perhaps for NYCFC II video games or US Open Cup matches, and could possibly be utilized by native excessive colleges and schools.
It is not the primary time a soccer stadium has been advised on this website. Two years in the past, Garo Gumusyan Architects proposed changing Ichan Stadium with a soccer-specific stadium nearer to the waterfront that may be linked to East Harlem by a brand new bridge, making the services extra accessible to underserved neighborhoods. The proposal did not bear in mind the significance of the working observe, although, suggesting it “differs little from working tracks discovered at quite a few websites all through the town.”
The architect’s impression of their plans (above) additionally regarded to intrude on Hell Gate Salt Marsh which is likely one of the metropolis’s solely freshwater wetlands and must be retained in any respect prices for conservation and environmental functions, and in addition as a result of it is a large a part of the island’s allure.
Regardless, such concepts could also be helpful if NYCFC is trying to do one thing comparable, if much less drastic and intrusive, on the island.
Entry Points & Alternatives
Randall’s Island has pedestrian hyperlinks to a few of the town’s 5 boroughs. Reflecting this, the stadium there was as soon as often called the Triborough Stadium (and beforehand the Municipal Stadium earlier than it was renamed Downing Stadium after John J. Downing, a director Division of Parks and Recreation, in 1955), and is spanned by what remains to be typically known as the Triborough Bridge (though it was formally renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in 2008).
Probably the most enticing of those walkways is the pedestrian-only Wards Island Bridge which connects the island to Manhattan on the southern finish of East Harlem. One other path goes beneath the Randalls Island connector railway bridge into the Bronx, whereas there are additionally footpaths alongside the highway bridges into Astoria, Queens, and the northern a part of East Harlem, Manhattan.
All of those footpaths are nice for seasoned metropolis walkers, and the Wards Island Bridge could possibly be one of the crucial enticing walks to the match in world soccer however, generally, transport connections and accessibility would have to be improved if that is to be a viable choice as a house for the town’s Main League Soccer aspect.
There have been plans, as proven above, for higher public transport hyperlinks that would come with a station on Randalls Island. The Triboro Line, has proposed conversion of present practice tracks that run between the northern Bronx and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn to an above-ground passenger rail line that may be part of the subway system, once more strengthened the connection to the three boroughs. However the scope of the mission has been restricted, and is now set to run between Astoria, Queens, and Bay Ridge. It even has a brand new title that displays its restricted ambitions—the Interborough Specific.
The unique thought to incorporate a cease on Randalls Island could be ideally suited for the upgraded stadium. Is it too optimistic to assume that work by NYCFC on the island, and the potential of hundreds of individuals touring there on sport days, could present a case to return to the unique plans and assist out the Bronx? It could even provide one other route from the south of the town to Yankee Stadium, altering at Hunts Level.
All of this could possibly be seen as a chance somewhat than an issue. Certainly the entire island is a public park and facility that could possibly be invested in by NYCFC, which have already got a great observe document of labor within the metropolis’s communities. The membership have already hosted soccer occasions there.
Upgrading present services and organizing entry to them would profit not solely the membership and its followers by way of getting supporters to the island for video games, but additionally the hundreds of others who use these parks and fields for leisure video games, decrease league soccer and different sports activities reminiscent of baseball and tennis.
If NYCFC are to proceed to work with its authentic “5 boroughs, one Metropolis” slogan, and the #ForTheCity motion, Randalls Island could be a perfect base from which to help the town whereas additionally constructing help within the metropolis. Even when it is not the positioning of tea eventual everlasting soccer-specific residence stadium, it might definitely be a house for soccer in New York Metropolis. In some ways, it already is, and it has been for many years.