Yankees, NYCFC both hope the grass stays greener at stadium

The goal for major league soccer
Major league soccer's goal   

New York City has a freshly minted soccer team, which is being greeted by sports enthusiasts as another feather in the cap of a sports crazy city that's already got two of every professional sports team.

Still, Major League Soccer's upstart team, the New York City FC (NYCFC) is already encountering problems on the home front. For now, the squad is sharing space with the legendary Yankees in their $2.3 billion Bronx stadium, raising questions about how the field will be converted and turf will get maintained—just as baseball season officially kicks off.

"It'll definitely cause an issue, but it's nothing that we can control, so we can't worry about it," Mark Teixeira, the Yankees' first baseman, told the Wall Street Journal on March 10. "It's terrible for a field."

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However, Tom Glick, the soccer team's president, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on March 13 there should be no problems regarding field conditions or conversions once baseball season starts.

"Yankee Stadium has had a number of [soccer] games over the last five years, so we know how to convert this stadium back and forth," he said. Representatives for the Yankees declined to comment to a request from CNBC.

The controversy threatens to overshadow what is in fact a strong start for NYCFC, which is undefeated after three games, and scored a major public relations victory by nabbing Spanish striker David Villa as the face of the team. The NYCFC is scheduled to play 16 more games in the House that George Built, while baseball season is scheduled to start on April 5.

Share and share alike?

Spanish soccer star David Villa takes part in a celebration of Major League Soccer’s new team, the New York City Football Club, Nov. 13, 2014, in New York.
Elizabeth Shrier | New York City Football Club
Spanish soccer star David Villa takes part in a celebration of Major League Soccer’s new team, the New York City Football Club, Nov. 13, 2014, in New York.

Turf problems are common in professional sports, as teams take pains to maintain the surface through a grueling regular season schedule and inclement weather. Still, concerns have surfaced about whether two teams can share the same turf where running is a major part of the sport.

Dual-purpose stadiums are hardly unprecedented. In New York, the NFL's Jets and Giants share MetLife Stadium, while Madison Square Garden is home to both the NBA's Knicks and NHL's Rangers.

For the Yankees and NYCFC, there are likely to be at least a few bumps in the road, experts say. Stadium conversions take time and practice to perfect, according to Samuel Kropp, vice president of operations at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"Early on, we didn't know what we were doing," Kropp said. "It took us about eight years to master [conversions]."

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Although swapping between teams and sports is not easy, Kropp assures it can be done. The Staples Center, which hosts two NBA teams, one WNBA team and one hockey team, carries out about 260 conversions each year, Kropp added. The playing surface, whether ice or hardwood, needs to be prepared at least 90 minutes prior to the game.

Conversion time, however, should not be a large concern for Yankee Stadium's grounds crew, Glick told CNBC. "We have three days on the front end and the back end, and it's actually just a portion of the [stadium] that gets converted," he said.

The NYCFC will play its second home game on Saturday, March 28 against Sporting Kansas City.