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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

EXPANSION: Making Sense out of MLS New York Expansion - Timeline & History

This story is one we have been tracking for as long as we have been following the league. Almost all the talk these days regarding Major League Soccer's expansion plans centers around New York City.

We have been uncovering potential names of the new NYC club through public records searches of domains and trademarks which MLS registered. We have tweeted our finds out as we discovered them but there was no central place for all of our research.

Many do not know that MLS expansion in New York City is not a new idea. In fact when the league was founded a team playing in New York City in addition to the NY/NJ Metrostars was always in the plan.

The strong rumor is that Metromedia the company which originally owned the Metrostars bought the rights to that 2nd NYC metro area team to avoid competition. However those rights reverted back to MLS following subsequent sales - most notably to Red Bull corporation which has repeatedly stated that it has no problem with a local rival. In fact, they welcome one.

Here is a quick timeline and history of events as they have played out regarding MLS in New York City  - complete with our discoveries:

1994 - Major League Soccer is founded and New York/New Jersey is selected to be an MLS team location

   1994- The club is named Empire Soccer Club.

1995 - MLS develops plan for league - envisions two teams in the New York City metro area.

1995 - With 10 teams in place Empire Soccer Club becomes known as the New York/New Jersey Metrostars after Nike suggests the name Metroflash and Metromedia‘s John Kluge and Stuart Subotnick "re-brand" the team which has yet to play a game as the NY/NJ Metrostars. Metromedia purchases rights to second New York City team.

1996 - Season 1 of MLS begins with the  NY/NJ Metrostars playing at Giant's Stadium.

1998 - The team drops the "NY/NJ" and becomes known simply as Metrostars and crest changed.

                                         2001 - "Empire F.C." was trademarked by MLS. (see below)

                                                    2001 - Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) purchases team from Metromedia. Plans to develop a soccer specific stadium.

                                                    2003 - MLS abandons "Empire F.C." trademark. (see above)

2006 - Red Bull Co. Ltd purchases the club from AEG. Does not purchase rights to second NYC metro area team.

2007 - New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and holds discussions with MLS on purchasing the rights to a potential New York City expansion team. Team would play at a soccer specific stadium adjacent to the at the time, still to be completed, Citi Field in the 2010 time frame.

2007 -  "The Borough Boys" - A group of New York City soccer supporters advocating MLS expansion into the city proper forms in a similar vein to Philadelphia's "Sons of Ben".

2008 - Global financial crisis happens. Wilpon family loses big in Madoff scandal. MLS plan on hold.

2009 - LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, long said to have a clause in his contract giving him a discount on ownership of an MLS team is reported in the UK Media as perhaps buying an expansion team in New York City.

 2009 - A group consisting of long time Beckham friend, Paul Kemsley and Eric Cantona announce the "return" of the New York Cosmos with a hint that they would seek to field an MLS team. 

2010 - New York Cosmos and Brazil legend Pelé becomes the club's honorary president.

2011 - New York Cosmos fielded a team comprised of New York Cosmos U23 players mixed with veteran international players from around the world at Paul Scholes testimonial match against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

2011 - Paul Kemsley steps down as New York Cosmos is bought out by an unidentified group rumored to be from the Middle East. 

 - May - News breaks that MLS has a half a dozen sites in New York City for a potential soccer specific stadium including Pier 40 and Flushing, Queens.

 2012 - July -New York Cosmos announce that they will join the North American Soccer League, one level below MLS as an expansion team in 2013.

2012 - JuneWe were first to discover that MLS registered - Buying it former from a domain clearinghouse for $3.188 USD.

2012 - September - We were again first to discover MLS registered trademarks for both City FC and Empire FC with the US Patent and Trademark Office. (see below)

2012 - November - Once again we were first to discover yet another bunch of NYC expansion related domain names which MLS registered a little over a week prior to our discovery:, and

2012 - November - A day later this article appeared which states that neighborhood support has grown  for a soccer stadium and MLS in Queens. 
2012 - December - MLS on the 4th of December held a town hall meeting/presentation in Queens talking up the idea. The Borough Boys were present and the overwhelming sentiment following the meeting was positive with many excited at the prospect of an MLS team in Queens.

2012 - December - Bloomberg News on the 14th of December publishes an article which for the first time makes official what had been rumored: English Premier League club Manchester City is the leading potential owner/investor in the Queens MLS team.

The following video was presented pitching an MLS stadium and the game day experience in Queens:

On the 14th of December 2012 - Major League Soccer trademarked "New York City FC" with the US Patent and Trademark Office (see below).

A quick Google search for "New York City FC" interestingly uncovered this Youtube video entitled "New York City FC is Coming" from 2007. 

 While the video is likely unrelated to recent efforts it does show someone in MLS was thinking of that name as far back as 2007.

At this point is probably a safe bet to assume the next MLS team will be playing in New York City.  

***UPDATED: May 21, 2013 - MLS Officially Announces New York FC will join MLS as it's 20th team. The New York Yankees interestingly are part of the ownership group along with Manchester City.

We will continue to keep an eye on this and any and all MLS expansion, and as we stated, we'll tweet anything we come across as we find it. Follow us on Twitter.