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HARRISON, NJ-It’s to be a centerpiece for this city’s major redevelopment, but for all of the starts and stops, some wondered if the new 25,189-seat stadium for the Red Bulls franchise of Major League Soccer would ever get done. Now, it will apparently happen with the start of vertical construction for the $200-million facility.

“It’s something tangible that people can see,” says Red Bull New York managing director Erik Stover. “If they’re driving by on I-280 or riding on the PATH train, they can see it coming out of the ground. Up to now, it just looks like a dirt field.”

Its genesis goes back nearly a decade, when the Red Bulls were known as the MetroStars. The team continues to play its home games at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, but their average crowd of 20-25,000 rattles around in that 76,000-seat venue, and the team, which became known as the Red Bulls a couple of years ago, has long been in search of a more intimate venue. That venue is now slated for completion by September 2009.

Ground was officially broken more than two years ago, but site remediation and team and stadium ownership issues had thrown up some barriers to actual construction. The project got a jumpstart in November when team officials unveiled a revised design for the stadium. Those changes came shortly after the Red Bull New York franchise bought out the 50% ownership interest in the stadium held by entertainment giant AEG.

And it has a new name. Originally called Red Bull Park, the stadium will now be named Red Bull Arena. “The name was changed to be more in line with other Red Bull properties worldwide,” Stover says. The parent company is the Red Bull of energy drink fame, which has a number of soccer and ice hockey franchises across Europe.

“Over the course of construction to this point, the naming was not controlled by Red Bull,” Stover says. “Since Red Bull took over complete control in November, we have been planning to make a change more in line with other Red Bull properties.”

Located on just more than 12.4 acres on a former industrial site bounded by Sixth and Cape May streets, the stadium’s seating will include 1,116 club seats and 30 luxury suites. Media seating, rather than in an upper-level press box, will be located at field level directly behind the player benches.

A curving roof form will wrap Red Bull Arena in a metal shell, with its roof extending 130 feet over the main stands. The last 60 feet of that roof will be translucent to let in natural light. And the stadium’s exterior will be composed of metal, clear polycarbonate and glass panels.

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