New York City FC have moved their “home” game in the First Round of the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs from Red Bull Arena to Citi Field.
That’s right, the Gender Reveal Derby between NYCFC and Inter Miami will be held on Monday, October 17, at 7 pm in Queens, baby.
The club has yet to make an official announcement, and the NYCFC.com website still lists the game as taking place at Red Bull Arena, but an email sent out earlier this afternoon to season ticket holders confirmed the venue change. Season ticket holders now have until Friday, October 14 at 5 pm ET to opt out of the game.
The last-minute change represents a stunning turn of events for NYCFC. Citi Field became available as of Sunday night, when the New York Mets failed to advance out of a Wild Card matchup they were favored to win. But even if Citi Field was free, it seemed a logistical impossibility to move the game to Queens. Tickets to Red Bull Arena were made available to season ticket holders last Tuesday and to the general public on Wednesday, and seats were being sold on the secondary market through Ticketmaster and StubHub. All of those tickets will now need to be returned and refunded.
That might present a clerical headache for New York City, but it’s worth it to the fans. Red Bull Arena is a deeply unpopular venue for NYCFC. Part of it is the location: Located just outside of Newark, NJ, it is accessible by PATH and NJ Transit trains from lower Manhattan, but is inconvenient for fans who live in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Long Island, Westchester, and Connecticut.
But much of it is emotional: The arena is home to the rival New Jersey Red Bulls, and it’s simply insulting to be forced to go to a stadium covered with the logo and colors of the team NYCFC fans hate the most.
NYCFC have played four games at Red Bull Arena as the “home” team this year, and had trouble attracting fans despite offering deep discounts on ticket prices. That lack of a home-field crowd gave the games a sterile atmosphere, and made them feel like they were played at neutral venues.
There was concern that a playoff game on a Monday night in New Jersey would also be poorly-attended. Did NYCFC wait until today’s opt-out deadline for Red Bull Arena before moving the game because the attendance numbers looked grim? Or was this move in the works since Sunday, when it was crystal clear that Citi Field would become available? Only the P&L team at NYCFC HQ know the answer to that.
One thing is for sure: When NYCFC take the field in Queens to face David Beckham’s shiny pink toy, tens of thousands of New York City fans will be in the stands to cheer them on.