Not too long ago I was able to experience my first pro soccer game, and even though I have never been a big fan, I was surprised at how much fun I had at the new Red Bull Arena. Who knew that I would enjoy watching sweaty men run around playing with balls?
Even though a few years old now the 25,000 seat arena itself is still shiny and new. Walking around you almost expect to suddenly breathe in that brand new car smell. Bathrooms are large and very clean. Concessions are everywhere. Also, there are many beer stands that feature “beers of the world” and other domestic brews. Why spend $9 on a Coors or Bud when you can get a Stiegl Lager, Stella, Red Stripe, Blue Moon, Landshark, Becks, Heineken, and Newcastle among others. Food is the basic hamburger, hot dog, chicken finger variety with a few stands around for tacos, nachos, and other specialty foods. French fries are quite tasty though and seasoned. Since soccer is such an international game you would think they would offer a bit more worldly delicacies than the standard stadium dreck fare, right?
Getting here is pretty easy, as the PATH train from NYC heads right over to the Harrison stop and it’s a short stroll to the stadium. As we arrived a bit early we were able to walk around and explore. The view of the field is amazing. There is pretty much not a bad seat in the house. Lots of legroom too. This is a state of the art soccer stadium. Video screens at each end. Great sound system. Rowdy and fun fan sections for each team playing drums and singing fight songs. Open air stadium based on the European model with a roof that extends only over the seating, but leaves it open above the actual playing field. Definitely more fun to see a game in person rather than on tv. It actually goes by pretty fast. Not sure on all the rules but it was easy to pick up. It was a good game that ended in a tie after “extra time” was added on and the Red Bulls blew it. Oh well, everyone goes home happy as no one lost. As exciting as a 1-1 game can be.
There are some cons though. Now here is where I got a little pissed. All the credit card machines were not working during the first half of the game. With the ridiculous prices of beer, food, and water here paying with cash will wipe you out. Especially for those with families in tow. Yes, even at soccer everything is overpriced. At least they got it working by half time. The counter staff at the concessions have to be some of the slowest I have ever encountered at any pro sports arena I have been to. Also, where the heck are the water fountains? The stadium is basically in nowhere’s land in Harrison NJ in a sparse field that is a short walk from the PATH station. There really is nothing else out here. You almost expect to see tumbleweeds roll by. The PATH train station here was never meant to accommodate sports events and it is a mob scene trying to go home. What a mess. A definite renovation is needed of this whole station entrance and more ticket kiosks are a must.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at this great little stadium. The fans are fun and supportive, the stadium is clean and new, the actual trip by PATH train is cheap and quick back to NYC, and the tickets for a game are actually pretty inexpensive. Seems like Goldstar and other discount event sites constantly offer special ticket deals. I will definitely go back to see a few more games here soon.
Futbol, Footie, Soccer. Whatever you want to call it. I was the nut job that actually played goalie in high school for one season. At least I didn’t have to run around too much. Took too many balls to the face before I quit. Oh myyyyyy!
Red Bull Arena – http://www.redbullarena.us/