Following the conclusion of Sky Blue FC’s home season Saturday night, team personnel lingered at Yurcak Field discussion the necessary permutations that would allow the team to host a playoff game. If that does not materialize, Sky Blue could be a very different team when they next host a game, presumably next April.
The Equalizer has learned that Sky Blue will be entering talks with the New York Red Bulls in hopes of developing a working arrangement beginning in 2014. The extent of the relationship has not been determined, but it could go as far as Red Bull taking an ownership stake in the club. Should that happen, Sky Blue FC would almost certainly play their home games at Red Bull Arena next season.
A decision and announcement, should there be one, would come by the end of September.
Sky Blue has languished near the bottom of the attendance table since joining WPS in 2009. They entered the weekend 7th of 8 in that category, ahead of only the Chicago Red Stars. A move to Red Bull Arena and a partnership with the MLS club could lead to some spillover from Red Bull ticket holders and would represent a massive upgrade in amenities over the quaint but basic Yurcak Field at Rutgers University. On the other hand, even if they doubled attendance it would mean playing in front of some 20,000 empty seats most games, a scenario that plays poorly to the eye and saps atmosphere.
Red Bull bought the MetroStars ahead of the 2006 MLS season and promptly changed the club’s name to the New York Red Bulls.
Red Bull general manager Jerome de Bontin provided the following statement about discussions with Sky Blue:
“As a club, the New York Red Bulls are present throughout the youth, college, amateur and professional ranks of soccer in the tri-state area and embrace all aspects of the sport. We believe that women’s soccer has an equal part to play in the development of the sports in the USA. In my career, I have been very supportive of women’s soccer at all levels. As Chairman of Rush Soccer, I also oversee over 20,000 young women playing the sport and have played a role in helping some female American players find clubs to play for in Europe. Most recently, I helped Rush Product and U.S. International Lindsey Horan sign with Paris Saint Germain.
“I have enjoyed a long standing relationship with the owners of Sky Blue FC and can confirm that conversations, not negotiations, are on-going over the future of the franchise and the potential for the team to play at Red Bull Arena in the future. If those conversations are fruitful, we could potentially share the plans with the public after the completion of the present season.”