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HARRISON, NJ-The city council of this Hudson County town, which lies just across the Passaic River from Newark, has moved a proposed stadium for the MetroStars Major League Soccer franchise a giant step closer to reality by approving a resolution specifically authorizing further negotiations with the private developer of the project, Advance Realty of Bedminster, NJ. Advance will be the “private” part of the public/private partnership doing the stadium project, joined by the City of Harrison, the Hudson County Improvement Authority and the MetroStars organization itself.

With an estimated cost of some $85 million, the new venue will seat 25,000 spectators for soccer, and more for concerts and other events expected to be staged there. Under the deal just arranged by the partners and approved by the city council, the MetroStars will add $30 million to the pot, and the HCIA will finance the rest via a $55 million bond sale, according to officials. The bonds would be repaid primarily with payments in lieu of taxes by Advance.

Officials from Advance and the local authorities say that they expect to have the deal all wrapped up by the end of this year, which would pave the way for a spring of 2004 groundbreaking. The target opening date is the 2006 season. The MetroStars currently use Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands as their home field, but with a capacity of 78,000 the latter is outsized for Major League Soccer. The MetroStars and the league have also had issues with the playing surface at Giants Stadium, which has gone from artificial to natural grass and back to artificial in the last few years.

The new stadium will also be a centerpiece–and the first concrete step–in a major redevelopment of this city’s waterfront. A team of private sector developers led by Advance Realty will fashion a mixed-use development of 2.5 million sf of office space, a million feet of retail space, 3,500 residential units and a parking garage, all on former industrial land in this 1.2-square-mile town of 15,000 people. Signed on as joint venturers are the Pegasus Group of Hoboken, NJ; the Applied Co., also based in Hoboken; Roseland Property Co. of Short Hills, NJ; the Livingston, NJ-based Millennium Homes; and Harrison Waterfront Associates, based in Hauppauge, NY.

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