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March 22, 2010
Red Bulls stadium sparks nearby vacant lots
Red Bull New York held their first game at the new Red Bull Arena on Saturday (I'll be in attendance at the official season home opener next weekend, and reporting back here), and the Newark Star-Ledger marked the occasion with an article with this headline:
Red Bull Arena opening in Harrison sparks nearby redevelopment
Unfortunately, neither the article itself nor the photo of the new stadium shows any signs of nearby redevelopment. In fact, the story reports that the stadium "sticks out like a sore thumb in a neighborhood of vacant warehouses and empty lots. ... The local PATH station is a 10-minute walk away, and most restaurants are in the opposite direction, across Route 280."
It's always possible that the prospect of catering to hungry soccer fans will cause restaurants to sprout like dandelions, especially once they realize what a bad idea it is to take the bus from Newark instead of walking from the train. Though given that MLS clubs only play 15 home games a year, they'd better hope those fans are really, really hungry.
Hey, it could be worse - like no bus service at all (*cough* Pizza Hut Park *cough*)
There are a ton of restaurants within a 10 minute walk of the stadium in both the North or South directions; pretty much all fans I know went to these areas before or after the game. This is money that I would have spent on tailgating supplies from the supermarket in the past.
Here's a handy map:
Cool, thanks. (Though most of those locations in Harrison proper aren't within a 10-minute walk.) The best option looks like crossing the drawbridge to the Ironbound on the other side of the river - is that bridge walkable, do you know?
I see the Red Bulls allow you to bring in a "modest amount of food, one sealed bottle of water," which I guess could be worse, considering some other venues' policies. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Madison Square Garden. Were you really worried that my son's bagel was going to cut into your profit margin?)
The bridge to the Ironbound, on Jackson Avenue, is definitely walkable, with two sidewalks. This is the way people walking from Newark Penn Station and those surrounding restaurants came to the stadium. I walked by around 4:30pm on Saturday (6pm kickoff) and there was a constant stream of people walked to the stadium this way. There were many police officers on hand to control traffic and maintain pedestrian safety.
We walked from MMM Bello's near Newark Penn Station in just about 10 minutes. Yes, we walked across the bridge.
Everybody wants to be negative about this thing, what was the last building project that used NO public money to happen around here?
The Ironbound has TONS of places to eat/drink before and after the game. They are all a 10-20 minute walk from the stadium.
All the vacant lots right next to the stadium are to be developed. It doesn't look great now, but hopefully it is all finished within the next few years, and it should be a great area for gamedays.
There was actually about $80 million in public land and infrastructure costs, so "no public money" isn't exactly right.
That said, I'm not being negative about the stadium, and certainly not about the location — there's a reason we're going to our first MLS game this year, and it's only partly because my son discovered FIFA Soccer 10 on the Wii. I'm just skeptical that those vacant lots are all going to be filled, or if they are filled, it'll be because of the stadium.
Those lots were supposed to be developed already (or way into development). The recession put a temporary stop to all that but word from a few months ago was that the infrastructure work is starting this spring. Hopefully within a couple of years lots there will be many eating and drinking establishments right in front of the Arena. Still, I can't see them beating the quality of the places in the Ironbound.
Neil, your best bet is the 10 minute walk over the bridge to the Ironbound for food and drinks before the game. PATH train is super easy and cheap. That was a 6 minute walk.