NEW YORK -- Mention those empty seats at Yankee Stadium at your own risk.
Don Garber did.
A day after the Major League Soccer commissioner raised the subject, New York Yankees president Randy Levine blasted back.
"Don Garber discussing Yankee attendance must be a joke," Levine said Friday. "We draw more people in a year than his entire league does in a year. If he ever gets Major League Soccer into the same time zone as the Yankees, we might take him seriously.
"Hey Don, worry about Beckham, not the Yankees. Even he wants out of your league," he said.
Star David Beckham has been loaned from MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy to AC Milan through the end of the Italian Serie A season.
Speaking Thursday to the Associated Press Sports Editors, Garber said he'd noticed the unfilled seats at New York's two new stadiums. The Yankees' premium seats were more than half-empty for the five games following their home opener.
"It's incomprehensible that you watch a game, and there will be front-row seats empty," Garber said.
Told of Levine's comments, Garber explained his remark.
"When I mentioned the New York Yankees yesterday, my comments were part of a larger assertion that all businesses -- even the most successful sports entities -- are experiencing some impact from the economic downturn," Garber said through a league spokesman.
"The Yankees are one of the world's strongest sports brands and the context of my comments about a few empty seats at Yankee Stadium was to illustrate the economic challenges we are all facing," he said.
MLS averaged 16,460 for 210 regular-season games last year, a total of 3.46 million. The Yankees averaged 53,070 last year in the final season at the old Yankee Stadium, a total of 4.3 million.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press