Spring soccer season is kicking off across Baristaville, and families who want some big-league inspiration can find it at Red Bull Arena.
The stadium in Harrison, NJ, holds up to 25,000 soccer fans who want to cheer for the home team, the New York Red Bulls. (Yes, just like the Giants and Jets, the Red Bulls are another NY squad that plays in Jersey…) And this is the real deal: the Red Bulls are part of Major League Soccer, which has 22 pro teams across North America.
Which means this isn’t like a trip to a minor-league ballpark. The focus is on the game (don’t expect a half-time show or lots of breaks with additional family entertainment), and the hot dogs cost $6. But the soccer is high-caliber, and kids can get the feeling of going to a major stadium sporting event without parents having to drop hundreds of dollars just for seats: tickets start at $15 for the top of the upper section and max out at around $60. But with only two levels in the stadium and clear sight lines everywhere, there aren’t really any bad seats in Red Bull Arena.
One note of caution: driving to and from the game isn’t easy. The stadium is in the middle of Harrison, and it’s not really designed for high-volume traffic. The local police do their best to accommodate the crowds, but there’s a limit to what they do. The best bet it to take the PATH train to the Harrison stop and make the short walk to the game; otherwise, pad in some extra driving time and figure on another $10 or so to park.
Logistics aside, a Red Bulls game is a lot of fun. There’s a section of hard-core fans behind one of the goals who keep the whole place revved up with “Let’s Go Red Bulls!” cheers and stadium-wide foot stomping for corner kicks. The players are real pros and give it their all for the 90 minutes of game time (plus a 15-minute intermission). My son, who had never seen any major-league sports in person, was wide-eyed throughout the whole thing and came away talking about how he was going to up his game with his local soccer team.
Of course, this being soccer, expect low scores and the possibility of a tie game at the end. But that doesn’t stop seeing the Red Bulls play from being an exciting family trip with lots of big kicks.
For information and tickets, visit www.newyorkredbulls.com.