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HARRISON, NJ-The off-again, on-again soccer-specific stadium that will be home to the metro area’s Major League Soccer franchise finally has an official start date for construction. That will come on Sept. 19, when co-owners AEG New York and Red Bull, the Austrian beverage manufacturer, will officially break ground. The 25,000-seat venue will host the New York Red Bulls home games, as well as a variety of special events, when it opens in the summer of 2008.

“It’s awesome to finally be breaking ground for construction of what will be a special stadium and surrounding development,” says Nick Sakiewicz, president of AEG New York, which is a division of the AEG entertainment conglomerate. “Red Bull Park will be a place where soccer and entertainment lives. The rich soccer history in the area combined with the tremendous access to this location makes this the perfect place to build.”

The project had been delayed for several years, mostly over funding issues. The final piece of the financial puzzle for the $100-million venue fell into place in July: As reported by GlobeSt.com, the Hudson County Improvement Authority announced just weeks ago that it had completed the sale of $39.4 million in revenue bonds to finance the land acquisition. The sale involved more than $30.5 million in tax-exempt and more than $8.8 million in taxable bonds rated AAA by Moody’s.

The team, known until last year as the MetroStars, currently plays its home games at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands. The name change occurred when Red Bull bought into the team and the stadium project, including naming rights. AEG itself owns or co-owns several MLS franchises, and within recent years has completed such soccer-specific venues as The Home Depot Center in Southern California and Toyota Park in the Chicago area.

The stadium is a major component of Harrison MetroCentre, a multi-billion-dollar redevelopment of a former industrial site on this city’s waterfront, being done by the Bedminster-based Advance Realty Group. As reported by GlobeSt.com, the build out is projected at some three million sf of office space, 3,500 residential units, 300,000 sf of retail and 10,000 decked parking spaces.

“The bond sale and subsequent construction start-up continues the positive forward momentum of the MetroCentre project,” says Peter B. Higgins, chairman of the Harrison Redevelopment Authority.

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