HARRISON, N.J. -- It's easy to exaggerate the importance of sports stadiums. The coverage of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium last year made it seem as though
But after touring Red Bull Arena, the new $200 million-plus home of Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls, I'm a little breathless myself. In the year 2010, the most advanced, state-of-the-art soccer stadium in the Western Hemisphere (at least until Chivas de Guadalajara's futuristic "volcano" stadium gets finished) is a couple of convenient PATH train stops from the epicenter of New York City.
And the key phrase is "soccer stadium." Unlike so many other MLS buildings, which have a stage at one end and double as concert venues, Red Bull Arena is built for fútbol. Not one of the 25,000 seats -- and they're all seats; no benches here -- has a bad view. The front row is a mere 21 feet from the sidelines and 27 feet from the endlines, the better for
Red Bull has gotten plenty of criticism for producing a woeful soccer team in recent years, but the Austrian-based company got everything right in its new building, which is modeled after the Wörthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, one of the Austrian host stadiums for Euro 2008. After taking over the project entirely from AEG during the development process, Red Bull made several soccer-friendly design changes, removing the planned stage, choosing a grass surface over FieldTurf, opting for a full wraparound roof, reducing the number of luxury suites by nearly half and adding more seats for real fans.
"We wanted to make the building be for the soccer fan," said Red Bulls VP
It is a truly edifying edifice in a number of ways:
Red Bull Arena is scheduled to open on March 20 with a friendly against Santos, the Brazilian club of
If and when that happens, a world-class player will find his new home is a world-class facility, the kind that tells you MLS is here to stay.