Red Bull Running

The long-awaited Red Bull Arena soccer-specific stadium in Harrison, N.J., finally debuted March 20, and not a moment too soon for players and fans.

The grand opening was 15 years in the making, after several redesigns, ownership changes and false starts. But getting out of cavernous Giants Stadium was apparently worth the wait.

“It was awesome,” Red Bulls player Jeremy Hall told the Newark Star-Ledger. “I had a huge smile on my face just to see the number of people who came out for this game. We knew it would be sold out, but to actually see the people in the seats in this beautiful stadium was unbelievable.”

While the Red Bulls, on a good day, may have been able to draw 25,000 at Giants Stadium, the difference between a cavernous but one-third-filled stadium and having a packed house roaring after each goal is a real home-field advantage.

The project was beset with delays. The original plan was for the Anschutz Entertainment Group-owned MLS MetroStars to open the stadium by 2006. However, negotiations with the state of New Jersey dragged, there were construction delays and in 2007 AEG sold the team and its $100 million stake in the stadium to the Red Bull energy drink company, which changed the team’s name and stadium design.

The new design features a roof that extends just past the field’s edge with 60 feet of the roof being transparent to allow for natural light. Red Bull Arena features 30 luxury suites and 1,000 premium seats.