[Note: This is not the be-all, end-all supporter’s guide to New York. Impact Media tells its story and invites supporters, especially those who have never been to New York, to make that trip. This is why this story contains hints and tips that may seem obvious to seasoned travelers.]
Distances are long in MLS. Supporters have to pick and choose where they’ll go and support their team.
Some destinations are musts. New York City’s two clubs give Montreal supporters double the opportunities to visit since NYCFC joined MLS, in 2015.
As the Impact played at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, April 27, Impact Media jumped at the chance to drive the 600 kilometres or so from Stade Saputo to the city that never sleeps.
Tuesday, April 26, 8am
And we’re off.
The road to New York first gets us to the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing. Don’t forget your passport, or you’ll have a bad time.
We’ve read weather reports rather too quickly. Don’t do that. This is April, not July. As soon as we enter the US, snowflakes softly land on the windshield. For a good two hours, we drive slowly in wintery conditions. Lesson learned, the hard way: make sure that the car is equipped with the right tires if spring isn't quite over yet.
And if the car is thirsty, wait until you get to New Jersey if you can. Gas prices in that state are generally easier on your wallet than in New York State.
Tuesday, April 26, 1pm
Grabbing a bite on the road is often akin to a roll of the dice. But the small towns bordering the I-87 can surprise you.
Thanks to the Internet, we end up in Saugerties, a 20,000-strong community some 70 kilometres south of Albany. We leave the highway. We’re going to pay a higher toll – whether you make a stop or not, take some US money with you. But this stop is well worth it.
Travellers can count on several, varied options – just check opening days and hours online. We settle on the quite welcoming Dutch Ale House (253 Main St.). The beer menu, with its American North-East bias, is in constant evolution. Servings are generous and reasonably priced. And we’re a mere five-minute drive from the Interstate.
Tuesday, April 26, 4pm
Oh, look, here’s traffic. We must be approaching New York City.
A GPS device or your mobile phone will help you figure out the quickest and least congested path. Make sure you ask your provider about the best data options.
Time to move to our quarters. If you enjoy big cities and manage to sleep anywhere, book a spot in Manhattan – should you want to make the required $acrifices. But our hotel, in the Long Island City neighbourhood in Queens, is quite the find. The Paper Factory Hotel, on 37th Ave. and 36th St., provides us with a straightforward room that’s comfortable and beautifully decorated. The rate ain’t bad, either: under $200 per night (using whatever online booking platform you enjoy most).
[Update: We are absolutely satisfied with our lodging recommendation. However, if you travel to New York for a game against the Red Bulls, the Paper Factory Hotel is more than an hour away from Red Bull Arena via public transit. Consider booking another hotel, closer to the stadium.]
Trains at the nearby 36th Street subway station take us into Manhattan in 20 minutes or so. We’re getting away from the New York chaos, but we still like it.
Tuesday, April 26, 5:30pm
From 36th Street, we go to… 36th Street – in Manhattan.
We’re at Slattery’s Midtown Pub (8 E 36th St.) to meet Curtis Lanton, who supports both the Impact and NYCFC. This entrepreneur in the pub business organizes viewing parties for Canadiens fans in New York – and, slowly but surely, for Impact supporters.
As we don’t know the blue half of the city all that well, we listen to him talk about potential success (“In New York City, you’ve got to win to earn respect. As soon as they produce a winning side, fans will gravitate toward them even more.”), the Yankee Stadium atmosphere (“It’s not like sitting at church.”) and the Red Bulls-NYCFC rivalry (“It’s pretty intense!”).
Ohio-born and a New Yorker for over 30 years, Curtis can nevertheless find a taste of Montreal close to home: he recommends the Mile End Deli (two locations on Bond Street in Manhattan and on Hoyt Street in Brooklyn), the brainchild of two Montrealers paying tribute to their former neighbourhood.
Slattery’s, for its part, is welcoming, what with its respectable selection of refreshing beverages – including its own lager. We haven’t tested the other menu items, but there are plenty of those.
Wednesday, April 27, 2pm
Gameday. Actually, make that ‘a day of games’. Atlético Madrid hosts Bayern at the Vicente Calderón in the UEFA Champions League.
We follow Curtis’ recommendation: the Football Factory (6 W 33rd St., by the Empire State Building), where they show game after game after game – soccer only, might we add. A hockey fan better not try pulling out $100 to get someone to change the channel; he can hit the road, the manager tells us in non-PG terms.
(Curtis also recommends Nevada Smiths at the Beer Authority [300 W 40th St.] for soccer fans.)
At Football Factory, we join Kristan Heneage, an English soccer writer who’s in town for a couple of days. Based in northern Newcastle, Kristan still covers MLS and puts together a breakdown of the week’s action on Yahoo’s British site.
To him, the various cultures, ideas and backgrounds one can encounter in New York make the city one of the best places for soccer fans to enjoy themselves.
“You come from Montreal. I come from Newcastle. Totally different backgrounds in the world,” he says. “You can come from miles away, come together and find a little bit of a thread that ties you together. That’s what you see every time you go to a soccer game in New York.
“You can come to a bar here and have a chat with someone that you’ve never met before and who has a totally different sphere of reference,” he continues. “I’ll never get that, realistically, in Newcastle. […] Here, I can come and learn so much more. It’s a place for ideas, New York.”
Wednesday, April 27, 7pm
Yankee Stadium. New York City FC vs Montreal Impact.
First things first: getting in. If you want tickets in an away supporters section, reach out to Carlos ‘Rafi’ Moersen at email@example.com.
Located in the Bronx, Yankee Stadium is serviced by two subway stations: 161 St – Yankee Stadium and Yankees – E. 153rd Street. From our hotel, it takes fewer than 45 minutes.
We see the Impact score an equalizer in stoppage time and leave with a 1-1 draw. Hopefully, you’ll bring even more luck to the Bleu-blanc-noir when you make the trip to NYC.