When Major League Soccer made its debut in 1995, one of the founding teams was the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. The MetroStars played out of the old Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands and fulfilled the New York City requirement that every major league wants. With a solid existence throughout, the MetroStars made a splash by signing well known names within the soccer world. In 2001, original owners John Kluge & Stuart Subotnick sold the team to the Anschutz Group, but it would be the next ownership group that would really change the landscape of the MLS and American sport. Anschutz would eventually sell the MetroStars to the Austrian company Red Bull GmbH, producers of the Red Bull Energy Drink. Coinciding with the change of ownership came the renaming of the MetroStars to Red Bull New York, the first truly corporate named team in major American sports in decades. Eventually the team would settle in as the more American traditionally named New York Red Bulls.
In 2010, after years of political challenges, the Red Bulls would move into their current home, Red Bull Arena. Also owned by the Red Bull company, Red Bull Arena is a soccer specific stadium with an MLS acceptable capacity of 25,000. It is in Red Bull Arena that New York has enjoyed their greatest success, earning Supporters’ Shields as regular season champions in 2013 and 2015, and making the MLS Cup final in 2008. Located in Harrison, New Jersey, just on the other side of the Passaic River from Newark, Red Bull Arena offers a great home for the Red Bulls as they continue their romp through the Eastern Conference with their quest of earning a Philip Anschutz Trophy as MLS Cup Champions still the ultimate goal.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Red Bull Arena offers a variety of culinary options that will definitely satisfy the appetites of most fans. Pretzels, popcorn ($5), cookies, frozen lemonade, fries, hot dogs ($6), nachos, Cracker Jack, sausage, and pizza ($9) are all available at various concession locations. A few stands offer fare that is more on the original and interesting side from the regular concession stands. Burgers & Brew, David's Cookies, Premio and Chicken & Waffles all offer more original options. Smokehouse wings, mac & cheese, chorizo, chicken and waffles and bacon on a stick are all items that are a little different from the traditional stadium food that fans may want to consider. Prices are definitely on the more expensive side.
Soft drinks are Pepsi products ($5). Other items like coffee, hot chocolate and water are also available. The most original non-alcoholic beverage is probably the most obvious. Varieties of Red Bull energy drinks are available throughout Red Bull Arena. There is a wide variety of beer available at Red Bull Arena. Coors Light, Miller Light, Goose Island, Beck's, Bass, Landshark, Stella Artois, Heineken and Strongbow are all available ($10/$12) at various locations throughout the stadium.
Red Bull Arena offers fans a great atmosphere for catching some MLS action. Red Bull Arena is immediately different from other stadia in this league. It is more enclosed than many other stadia with a configuration that is more circular as opposed to two separate grandstands along the pitch. Due to the lack of development in the immediate surrounding area, Red Bull Arena looks fairly massive on approach. Silver siding gives it a sleek and modern look and the overhang helps protect fans from the elements, which is important for those early and late season matches. On the west side of the arena before the gates open, BULLevard, the Red Bulls pre-match activity area, offers a variety of games for younger fans as well as other promotional and interesting items for older fans.
Entry into Red Bull Arena is at pitch-level, and fans are required to ascend stair cases to get to the main concourse. The main concourse offers fans with an interest in MetroStars and Red Bull history, the opportunity to walk through great moments with banners under the steel girders with explanations of the photos on the banner painted on the I-beams. Whether it's the date of the first MetroStars game in 1996 or clenching of the first Conference Championship for the Red Bulls, the organization does a fantastic job of giving fans the opportunity to experience years passed and get an understanding of how far the franchise has come.
Inside the seating bowl, fans will be greeted with the stark simplicity of the green pitch, which is surrounded 360 degrees by two levels of seating. The pitch is oriented north to south and the most significant arena seating features are on opposite sides of the pitch. The west side features club seating and luxury boxes, slightly indented from the rest of the arena. The east side, on the lower level features a unique Red Bull logo design in the seats with the remaining seats throughout the arena colored a royal blue. Video boards hang above the north and south seating above the upper level. Above the east seating hang two simple banners honoring the 2013 and 2015 Supporters' Shields the team has earned. The 2016 season for the Red Bulls marked the twentieth anniversary of the team and fans helped elect the top twenty players in MetroStar/Red Bull history. The western facade, between the luxury box levels the top twenty players are honored. These include Mike Ammann, Tony Meola, Rhett Harty, Steve Jolley, Mike Petke, Eddie Pope, Seth Stammler, Mark Chung, Roberto Donadoni, Eddie Gaven, Amado Guevara, Clint Mathis, Tab Ramos, Dave van den Bergh, Youri Djorkaeff, Adolfo Valencia, John Wolyniec, Juan Pablo Angel, Giovanni Savarese and Thierry Henry. The Red Bulls also do what they can to honor current players. The lower bowl features large placards on the east side counting the goals of Bradley Wright-Phillips and the consecutive matches of goalkeeper Luis Robles.
The match day production at a New York Red Bulls is what you would expect from an MLS match. The traditional entry of the players with the traditional music happens. The supporters in the south end of the stadium add their own part to the atmosphere.
Harrison, New Jersey is not the greatest spot in the world. Admittedly there are a number of construction projects that are on the go and lots of opportunity to improve the area. Currently (spring, 2017), there are few options for pre or postgame food. On Frank Rogers Blvd., fans can find a Five Guys Burger and Fries and The Station Bar & Bites. Other than that, fans will have to cross the river to Newark or take transit elsewhere to find adequate spots.
There is not much in the way of alternative entertainment options in Harrison. Fans will have to cross the river to find much of anything. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) is nearby in Newark. As far as other sporting options go, the NHL's New Jersey Devils and Seton Hall Pirates basketball are played at the Prudential Center in Newark. NJIT Highlanders basketball is also found in Newark at the Fleisher Center. The reality is that fans are a short ride on the PATH to New York City which has nearly limitless entertainment options. That proximity gives the neighborhood a little better mark than expected.
As far as accommodations go, Element is within walking distance. Also, on the other side of the river, the Best Western Robert Treat is an affordable option.
The New York Red Bulls have a strong following and strong fans for game day. In the interests of full disclosure, the game that was reviewed did not have a great attendance, however, the weather was extremely cold with the wind chill in single digits, Fahrenheit.
Per game attendance for Red Bulls matches is competitive with most teams in the league. The Red Bulls averaged over 20,000 fans in 2016, which is good for 9th in the MLS. This is an improvement from the 2015 season where the Red Bulls averaged over 19,600 per match, which gave them a twelfth place ranking. Red Bull fans are led by the three main supporter groups. Empire Supporters Club, Garden State Ultras and the Viking Army all sit in the south end of the arena, and are up and dancing and chanting throughout the entire match. They are as strong as supporter group as any in the MLS. The fans definitely add to the atmosphere. On the match that was reviewed, without the supporters, it would have been like playing a match in an empty Red Bull Arena.
Red Bull Arena is located in the town of Harrison, New Jersey, a small town on the north side of the Passaic River from Newark. As with any spot in the New York metropolitan area, getting to the arena by car can be challenging. Red Bull Arena is located not far from I-280, the Essex Freeway. Once in Harrison, the town and team do a fantastic job of posting people all over to help the flow of auto and human traffic.
Some parking is available in Harrison. Getting to the arena and making plans on where to park is a good idea. Although there are a number of pre-paid parking options available in Newark, there are not many, if any, available in Harrison. That being said, the match which was reviewed, parking was found in Harrison at a reasonable $15 price tag.
The PATH train, which essentially links New Jersey with New York City has a stop in Harrison, only a few blocks from Red Bull Arena. It is also only one short stop after the Newark Penn Station stop. Check the PATH website for fares, schedules and maps.
Ticketing and gate entry are around the near entirety of the arena. Box office A is on the west side of Red Bull Arena along Pete Higgins Blvd, with Box office B along the north side of the building. Gate entries are at the four corners of the arena. Lineups are not an issue.
Getting around Red Bull Arena is not too difficult as the concourses are sufficiently spacious. Stairs may be of some concern as there are many staircases in various parts of Red Bull Arena. There are stairs from the ground level to the main concourse as well as stairs to the upper levels. Elevators are available, but it did not appear that escalators were. The washroom facilities on the main concourse level are more than adequate.
A trip to see the New York Red Bulls remains an affordable venture. Retail price for tickets begin at $32 and can go well over $100 with Audi Club seats going for $215. There are some deals to be found on the secondary market for those who are shrewd enough to find them. Many matches offer secondary market tickets for around $15. Parking is about what is to be expected for a major sports experience and concession prices are on the expensive side. The Red Bulls have consistently put a team on the pitch which challenges for annual awards and they have consistently brought in players with name recognition. A trip to see the Red Bulls offers a fairly strong return on investment, especially in this era of rising experience prices.
An extra mark for the rivalries that the Red Bulls share. Their original MLS rivalry is with DC United for the Atlantic Cup and their newer rivalry with New York City FC is the Hudson River Derby.
An extra mark for being an original MLS franchise.
An extra mark for the proximity to both Newark and New York City.
A trip to see a New York Red Bulls match is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The match that was reviewed had horrible weather, but aside from that was as enjoyable as most MLS experiences. Definitely safer than running with the bulls, running with the Red Bulls will surely convince fans to return to Jersey for more of the same.
Judging by the relatively sparse attendance at Red Bull Arena, it appears the soccer craze hasn't fully caught on in the New York area just yet. But with the brand new, state-of-the-art facility the Red Bulls have built, it shouldn't take long.
The arena, new for the 2010 season, is intuitively designed, squeaky clean, and extremely fan-friendly.
From the architectural innovations that allow the arena to be open air but still stay warm, to the easy-to-navigate concourse packed with concession stands boasting diverse food and drinks from around the world, the Red Bulls offer a venue that will satisfy everyone from the die-hard soccer hooligan to the novice checking out their first professional soccer match
This soccer-specific stadium is quite striking on the inside as it feels like you are in the middle some brand new grounds in the middle of England, Switzerland or Germany. From the translucent roof covering all the seats to the terrific sightlines on the great seating design it is an excellent place to watch a game. Looking forward to it being shown off during the MLS all star game in a few weeks. Too bad Red Bulls management continue to bring in overpriced guys who have yet to win anything in the franchise's 15 years of existence. There are a lot of diehards who go and it was a blast watching the Empire Supporters Club during the game. Yes, the neighborhood surrounding RBA is as bland as it gets full of abandoned warehouses and drab industrial areas. Its well worth eating inside with all of the great options featuring a Newark flavor to it.
MLS stadia have historically fit into one of two categories. The first generation of converted football stadia often made a mockery of the beautiful game, with hash marks and yard markers dotting a choppy (or worse, plastic) pitch. The second generation, which started coming to life in the past decade, is the soccer-specific stadium.
Some of these are better than others, but all shared one thing in common – a cheapness in construction befitting soccer’s second-tier status in America. Red Bull Arena, which opened in 2010, broke the mold. The highest compliment one could pay to Red Bull Arena is that it wouldn’t be out of place in Europe, from the translucent roof to the intimate seating bowl to the (unfortunate) industrial brownfield location.
Attended a Wednesday night game with just 13,000 on hand, and it was chilly too. Beautiful stadium with great sight lines from the upper deck across from the suites. Crowd was not that lively for soccer. Tickets are better acquired on the secondary market, and food prices have gone up since the review was done. Definitely needs some post-game bars to allow the train crowd to time its departure.
Access: For 2014, PATH construction and weekend schedule limitations will result in a longer journey to/from NY. PATH will re-open weekends to WTC for 2015 and the Harrison station is undergoing improvements. There is a shuttle near Gate A to Newark Penn Station. Newark Ironbound is a good neighborhood to eat before/after the game, about a ten minute walk south going over the bridge from Frank Rodgers Blvd. A hotel (Element by Westin) is under construction at the PATH station. Also a Dunkin' Donuts and Five Guys by PATH. Other things being constructed outside after a very slow start at seeing anything in the immediate vicinity of stadium. There is a handful of pre-game activities outside stadium. Loud and passionate South Ward supporters section, good acoustics inside.
Red Bull Arena is an exciting venue to attend. The fans are crazy and the team is normally very good! Food is very expensive though. The neighborhood isn't to nice either, but the arena is great!!
The best soccer place in the US!
Located on the banks of the Passaic River in Harrison, New Jersey is one of the best soccer stadiums in North America (and possibly THE best). Prior to 2010, the New York Red Bulls, previously NY/ NJ Metro Stars, played in the local NFL stadium, as did most MLS teams. Giants Stadium served its purpose, and gave the team a place to play, but it was a football stadium in the end, not a soccer stadium.
Red Bull Arena was the answer.
With an overall capacity of 25,189, this shiny gem of a stadium is exactly what all soccer stadiums in the States should aspire to be, minus the location.
701 Frank E Rodgers Blvd S
Harrison, NJ 07029
399 Somerset St.
Harrison, NJ 07029