“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” Some of the most famous Rolling Stones lyrics and the music blasting on my laptop as I write this review –a review of a Red Bulls game. I know you’re thinking using the Stones analogy is going to be a stretch and why aren’t I reviewing a bar since I am the bar columnist, but just read on. I was lucky enough to grab some awesome seats to a Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew game on a Saturday night and much like Mick Jagger sings, my soccer night, wasn’t what I wanted, but exactly what I needed.
So for those of you who don’t know – the US does play soccer between World Cups and exhibition matches and much of that soccer is played right here in our backyard. The MLS is comprised of 18 teams (2 conferences) and our team is the NY Red Bulls who currently sit atop the East Conference in first place. Luckily enough I was able to grab tickets from the Bearded Photographer (aka ½ of the team that runs the Boken) and head to a game on a Saturday with a large group.
Game kicked off at 730, but the group (about 10-15 of us) kicked off the game at 5 with some tailgating. Coolers were packed with cold beers, heroes picked up from Vito’s deli (yummy) and we were off. I recommend bringing sandwiches as you may not always have a lot of room to grill. Tailgating is fun regardless of the location so I was excited. The drive from Hoboken to the stadium in Harrison (right next to Newark) only took about 20 minutes and once we got off the highway there were traffic cops and parking attendants directing us the whole way easing any navigation worries I had. If you take the PATH, it’s about 45 minutes to the Harrison stop. Parking isn’t bad, but don’t think it’s like the vastness Meadowlands parking lots. Red Bull Arena seats 25,000, but the stadium is still in a quasi-urban so parking can be a little tight. There were a few other groups tailgating but it was a causal mix of adults drinking beer and kids playing soccer. About 20 minutes before kickoff we made our way inside.
First reaction to the stadium – it’s fan freaking-tastic beautiful. Not just for a soccer arena, but for any arena. Still in its infancy, Red Bull arena is one of the best sports venues I have ever seen. The stadium is gorgeous, clean, easy to get around and stocked with concessions. All the seats have good views of the pitch (fancy term for soccer field) and they used different seat colors to make the Red Bull logo at mid-field in the lower level seats. Lines for concessions and the bathrooms weren’t long at all and moving around was easy.
I would say I watch more soccer than most (Saturday morning Manchester United games), but am not a huge fan. Soccer, like most Americans, is on the periphery of my sports spectrum, relegated to casual observer status by the likes of football, baseball and hockey. I got super into it during the World Cup and big UEFA championship game, but that’s about it. So I came in with very little expectations for the game. The Red Bulls went up 1-0 early in the game and it stayed that way for a while. Sitting in the front row (thanks Bearded Photographer) was awesome because the views were amazing and you really got to see the whole play develop like hockey. Looking around the stands you have the full range – casual fan, family outing, group of guys and super fans – but all are pretty friendly towards each other (except the Columbus fans). As the match moved into the 3 minutes of extra time, it looked like a 1-0 win for the Red Bulls, but a last minute goal ended the match thrillingly at 1-1. Yes – a soccer match can end 1-1 thrillingly (think a buzzer beater in basketball).
Worth the Trip
Overall, a trip to see the Red Bulls is definitely worth it this summer. It’s a quick trip to a great stadium and a good base of fans. As someone who watches fast paced hockey or the slower pace of baseball games, this game was a healthy and entertaining sports medium. Sitting in the front row I expected a crazy amount of action in front of me (which didn’t come true), but instead got to see the whole field and plays develop all while hanging out with a good group of friends. Exactly what I needed on a Saturday night.
Next up – back to the booze with Zylo (W Hotel) Scotch Tasting
- The Drunken Polar Bear.