By Luis Vazquez
The second death of the New York Cosmos was shorter than the first that coincided with the death of the North American Soccer League, the United States first top division league. But ironically, a man who was fan as a child of the Cosmos during their glory years has come to the rescue by purchasing a majority of the club and returning it to the field of play in 2017.
Remember the name, Rocco B. Commisso. He is now the majority owner and chairman of the New York Cosmos, current NASL champions and winner of three of the last four titles in a league that, like the Cosmos has had its problems off the field.
But Rocco is not coming into this wearing rose-colored glasses.
“I’m going into this situation with my eyes open” Commisso explained, “This is not an easy situation from a financial standpoint.”
He has already made it clear that all debts will be paid and will look to bring back much of the staff that was in place when they shut down operations. Giovanni Savarese has already been re-installed at the head coaching position. The team is another story as most of the past team were released and much rebuilding is to take place.
“We’re not starting from zero, but minus-five,” Savarese admitted.
What makes Commisso the right man for the job is his link to city soccer. He is invested emotionally in the Cosmos from their inception and has been involved in New York City soccer most of his adult life first as a player for Columbia University and later their benefactor.
“I look forward to building on the rich history of America’s most iconic soccer club.”
But its his work in the media field that is most attractive. Rocco is the CEO and chairman of Mediacom, the fifth largest cable provider in the country. He did this by striking in smaller areas that didn’t have access to cable.
“Rocco isn’t known for screwing anybody,” Commisso pointed out, “Rocco doesn’t have that reputation and has never had that reputation.”
Commisso brings expertise in a area the Cosmos desperately need at this time. From the moment the Cosmos rejected the terms to enter MLS they had to be creative in the way they marketed themselves especially with the New York Red Bulls well-entrenched and the NYCFC the darlings of city proper.
But being a big fish in a small pond has not produced the results they hoped for.
“He is not only extremely knowledgeable abut the beautiful game as it is played worldwide but brings extensive entrepreneurial experience in the media and communications field,” said outgoing chairman Seamus O’Brien
Commisso has quite a few challenges ahead that he must solve for the Cosmos to survive. The NASL provisionally retained its division II status but with only eight clubs its a smaller stage. The Cosmos cannot go up to division one USL as they are feeder teams to MLS clubs which is not a good fit or new market team which they are not.
The biggest challenge is securing a stadium They have worn out their welcome at Hofstra University. But Commisso is already at work on this. He has pointed to MCU Park in Coney Island and Columbia’s soccer stadium that just happens to be named after him. He even has entertained going beyond the metro area.
“If we want to go beyond the five boroughs, there’s more stadiums out there,” Commisso said, “But I would say there is a high probability that we’re going to play within the five boroughs.”
Does Commisso have the goods to produce a Cosmos future that contains these things? It remains to be seen. But there is a no-nonse vibe about him that implies that when he sets his mind on something, it gets done.
Contact Luis Vazquez: facebook.com/luis.armando.50