December 10, 2012
CHANGE OF MIND
De Bontin on other area MLS teams: 'There's clearly enough space in New York for two or three teams'
Red Bulls general manager Jerome de Bontin has changed his mind. He feels there is room for two Major League Soccer teams in the metropolitan area.
|Jerome de Bontin: "There's clearly enough space in New York for two or three teams. Everyone at the league is supportive of that idea."
Keith Furman/First Row Photos
Last month, de Bontin told Fox Sports that he didn't think the market was ready for another team. "A second team in New York would be a good thing, but today it’s probably premature," he said. "I wonder if market is mature.”
De Bontin certainly was singing a different tune when he spoke to Deirdre Bolton on "Money Moves" on Bloomberg Television on Monday.
MLS commissioner Don Garber is pushing for a second team in the area -- at Flushing Meadows Corona MPark in Queens, N.Y. The Red Bulls call Harrison, N.J. home.
"Every time a new professional soccer club opens America, I have to rejoice and I have to be ," de Bontin told Money Moves. "There's clearly enough space in New York for two or three teams. Everyone at the league is supportive of that idea. We as shareholders of the league join all our colleagues in saying that it would be terrific to have the competition in New York."
Garber has set a target date of 2016 for the Queens franchise.
"If it does come three years away, it does give the Red Bulls plenty of time to do our work," de Bontin told Bloomberg Television. "At Red Bull we tend to say that the brand gives us wings. If I do a good job, buy the time we land in three years a new team in New York will be ready for the competition."
The Red Bulls boast two of the highest-paid players in the league. Former French intrnational striker Thierry Henry is the highest paid player in the league at $5.6 million.
Mexican international defender-midfielder Rafa Marquez earns $4.6 million a year.
"Winning teams need stars," de Bontin told the TV program. "Stars tend to emulate and stimulate the other players. We feel strongly about having Thierry and Rafa. Having Tim Cahill to who came this past summer will help us not only drive more people to the stadium, but also help us develop the players of tomorrow. As we go forward, we would like to be able to bring more of them."
Despite the presence of well-known player such as Henry and Marquez, the Red Bulls struggled to fill Red Bull ARena on a consistent basis.
"In the MLS today, Seattle manages to bring 40,000 people or more to each of their games," de Bontin told Money Moves. "If Seattle can do it, I am pretty convinced that New York can do it too. We just have to develop a few strategies and adapt our policies to be more part of the community and make sure that you and your friends and the other people who watch here in New York get this desire to come to our games. We think there are plenty of reasons to come, we just have to be more present, and people have to think of us a little more than they have until now."