November 10, 2011
By Charles Cuttone
A NEW STADIUM
Sky Blue FC wants to build its own facility
There may be another soccer specific stadium built in the New York metropolitan area soon--- but not to house a second Major League Soccer team. Sky Blue FC owner Thomas Hofstetter said the team is looking into the possibility of building its own stadium.
|Sky Blue FC is considering developing its own soccer-specific stadium in central New Jersey.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
"We have a few locations in mind," said Hofstetter. "We've had townships approach us."
The Sky Blue owner also said the team has had discussions in the past with Rutgers, its home for the past three seasons, about partnering on a stadium.
Hofstetter said Sky Blue plans to continue those discussions in the future. Whether their home remains on the Rutgers campus or not, he did say the team would remain in central New Jersey and that the stadium would be located within the boundaries of the New Jersey Turnpike, route 280 to the north and 287 to the south.
"We're New Jersey. We define everything by the highways," he quipped.
"About a year and a half ago we had some drawings done," he said. Those plans were shelved, at least temporarily as the fledgling league tried to gain its footing and stabilize. Indeed, over that time, the league's future has seemed very much in question, with Sky Blue and the Boston Breakers the only teams remaining from the original seven franchises that kicked off in 2009.
"We talked to Rutgers about making it (Yurcak Field) a true soccer facility, maybe a horseshoe or a complete oval."
The capacity of the new stadium would be about 8,000, or maybe as much as 10,000.
One WPS team, the Atlanta Beat, plays in its own stadium, a facility it partnered with Kennesaw State University to build.
"If the expansion develops like I think it will by 2013,” Hofstetter said, “we will try to have this done by 2013 or 2014."
While David Halstead, the owner of the Philadelphia Independence, has said his ultimate goal is to join that city's MLS team, the Union, in PPL Park, Hofstetter said Red Bull Arena is not an option for his WPS team.
"Red Bull Arena is too big," he said. "I did talk with them, but it would too expensive, and for a WPS team to play in a 25,000 seat stadium would be like them playing in Giants Stadium," he said of the lack of atmosphere when that team was housed in the mostly empty NFL stadium.
Hofstetter will be meeting with his partners in the team to discuss the stadium plans.
"I didn't want to sit down with any townships until we decide what we want to do."
Building its own facility would go a long way toward helping Sky Blue increase its revenue potential. Hofstetter said the team came close to meeting its financial goals in 2011, and hopes to hit them in 2012 thanks to cost reductions and increases in revenue, including getting a distribution from the league office for the first time, since the league generated a profit.
"Our sponsorships are pointing upwards and our ticket sales are pointing upwards," he said.