Red Bull Arena – The Home of American Soccer?

MLS side, New York Red Bulls, play their home games at Red Bull Arena – a soccer specific stadium in Harrison, New Jersey. The stadium – which opened in 2010 – had a construction cost of $200 million, and since the stadium opened, the team has won two Supporter Shields, finished top of the East four times, and won the Atlantic Cup four times as well – but is Red Bull Arena the best soccer-specific stadium in the US?

Red Bull Arena does not only hosts New York Red Bulls’ games. In fact, it has hosted a few USMNT’s matches, not to mention that this summer it will host two CONCACAF Gold Cup group games, and Tottenham vs Roma in the 2017 International Champions Cup in late July. Red Bull Arena also hosted the ICC in 2015, where the New York Red Bulls beat the then-champions of England, Chelsea, with a young RBNY side. The stadium has also hosted Rugby Union matches.

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Chelsea vs RBNY at Red Bull Arena 2015 (Photo: gettyimages)

Red Bull Arena was designed with best soccer experience possible, and general manager Marc Grandpre has said “I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the building”, and the Arena even has its own dedicated Supporters area, The South Ward, where the Empire Supporters Club (101), Garden State Ultras (133) and the Viking Army (102) all sit. There are many ways to travel to Red Bull Arena, including driving to Harrison, and parking in one of the parking lots that are rented out on match days, or you can catch the PATH train to Harrison station which is served by the Newark – World Trade Center line.

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You can catch the PATH train to Harrison then walk for 8 minutes to get to the Arena.

Since the franchise moved to Red Bull Arena, New York Red Bulls have become a domiant force of the MLS, winning 2 Supporters Shields, reaching Conference Finals a handful of times, but we ask – is Red Bull Arena the best soccer specific stadium in the whole of the United States?


Former captain of the Red Bulls, Dax McCarty, certainly thinks so saying to MSG during a special of Red Bull Arena: The Fortress (which you can see here) “I think it was 2010 and I was playing for FC Dallas at the time, and my first impression was awe”

2013 Shield

Winning the Shield in 2013

Host of the Red Bulls games on MSG, Steve Cangialosi, agrees with Dax, saying “You’re standing in the cathedral of American soccer”

We spoke to Mark Fishkin, creator of the Seeing Red podcast which you can download on iTunes, about his views on RBA – “Red Bull Arena is an absolute palace of a stadium, from the roof keeping in the sound, to perfectly manicured surface, to the constantly singing of the South Ward. It’s not in the most glamorous location, but in five years’ time an entire neighborhood will have sprung up in front of the arena. Red Bull Arena can be very, very loud, even half full, and the Red Bulls have the best home record in the league since the stadium opened in 2010.”

Before NYCFC

The South Ward pre-NYCFC in 2016

I spoke to Julian, a UK fan of the Red Bulls, who recently went to the RBNY v Chicago game and said “It’s the only one I’ve ever been to, but its the bees knees, I’ve been four times since it opened.”

I spoke to @mpk311 on Twitter, who is a first year season ticket holder at Red Bull Arena but has been attending for a number of years, and he said this about the stadium “I’ve been to a few stadiums around the country, and also watched (obviously) a ton of soccer on tv. I think what sets RBA apart is how the stadium was designed to be fan-centric. The seats are very close to the field which allows the fans to be close to the game. In addition, the stadium gets VERY loud which I’m guessing is due to the design and again proximity fans are to the field. Regardless of where you sit in the stadium, the view is great which a good number of stadiums can’t say (cough yankee stadium cough). Also, regardless of where you sit, you can hear the South Ward and all of the fans as loud as any other seat.”

Celebrating beating NYFC

The team and fans celebrating beating NYCFC in 2016

I also spoke to @bosleezy on Twitter, who has been a ST holder for many years, and here’s what he said about Red Bull Arena. “I love RBA and there’s no place I like to watch a game more. That being said, I think it was a good roadmap of the possible pitfalls that can happen to an American soccer stadium. It’s just a tad too big, which obviously becomes exacerbated when the fans don’t show up (which tends to be fairly often). But I have never had a bad review of the stadium from anyone I brought (except one who had to drive, but his issue was with parking). The future of the stadium does worry me, re: the tax issue with Harrison (the franchise’s ambition, etc), and I thought that the development around the area would move faster. RBA is a second home though, and I love it.”

Home Opener 17

Home Opener 2017 South Ward

I spoke to @Metros96, a fan who’s been to 73 games in row at Red Bull Arena, and here is what he said, “I feel so fortunate that I get to visit Red Bull Arena so often. I’ve been to 73 consecutive home games now and every visit is great. That doesn’t count the other times I’ve been there for Red Bull II games, US game, international friendlies, player meet & greets, watch parties, the infamous town halls, etc. It really feels like home for myself and so many others. It’s a fantastic place to watch a game. The atmosphere created by the South Ward is second to none and I’m lucky enough to sit directly above each and every game. I’ve brought friends to RBA & many many new ones there. I’m sad every time I leave at the end of a season & spend the winter looking forward to my return. I’ve seen legends play there: Henry, Ibrahamovic, Del Piero, Drogba, Pirlo, Lampard, Giovinco, Kaka, etc. I’ve seen club legends like McCarty, BWP & Robles play dozens of games and leave their heart and soul on the field. I’ve seen youngsters like Miazga and Tyler Adams develop into professionals. I’ve seen trophies won & dealt with devastating losses.”

MLS game

However, when we spoke to @Forever_Metro, he said he used to think it was the best in the league…” I think RBA used to be the best SSS in the league, but some of these new stadiums are starting to give us a run for our money. Orlando’s has definitely become a big talking point in the league, Providence Park’s atmosphere is greet and the new LAFC stadium looks like it will be one of the best in the league too.” But he still said when the stadium is packed, he’d argue it is the best soccer specific stadium, “When RBA is packed I’d argue that it is the best stadium in the league. The roof keeps a lot of the sound in and it makes it a real intimidating place for opposing players and fans to come to. I think what stood out the most in recent years was during the NY Derby/Hudson River Derby when we sang “Take me out to the ballgame” it felt like the stadium was literally shaking when we said “1,2,3 strikes you’re out”

USL Cup win

NYRB II celebrating winning the USL Cup last year


I spoke to Seb O’Hara who runs RBNYFanpage on instagram, and here’s what he has to say: “I attend at least 5-6 games a season at RBA and while I might be a biased NYRB fan I think it’s a great experience for any soccer fan. Anywhere you sit you get a great view of the action and even with poor turn outs there’s always a great atmosphere. Since it’s opening in 2010 the Arena is one of the best soccer specific stadiums in the United States.”

It seems that the overall opinion thinks that the stadium is one of the best in the country, if not the best, but do you disagree? Let us know your views on Red Bull Arena on Twitter at @dictatethegame

Pano

Panoramic of Red Bull Arena

Are you a Red Bulls fan? Join the NY Red Bulls Facebook group here

Are you a Red Bulls fan from Ireland, England or Scotland? Join the I.S.E here

See our interview with Red Bulls midfeidler Derrick Etienne Jr here

See our all time New York RB XI here

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