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HARRISON, NJ-The Riverbend District, a local $1-billion redevelopment project, got kicked into high gear earlier this week when the final piece of steel for its centerpiece–a 25,000-seat soccer arena–was put into place. Construction on the Red Bull Arena began in August 2008 and is set to be ready for the 2010 Major League Soccer season. All told, 7,100 tons of steel have been used to erect the stadium.

The topping off ceremony was attended by a gaggle of local government and team officials, including US Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez; State Senate President Richard Codey; Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise; Harrison Mayor Ray McDonough; New Jersey Governor’s Office of Economic Growth Chief Jerry Zaro and MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

“In a time of economic downturn, today’s ceremony is really a celebration of the fact that New Jersey is open for business,” said Zaro. “Red Bull Arena represents another great success for New Jersey as we continue to bring jobs to the state and encourage private investment in our cities.”

The arena, which created 200 construction jobs, features a unique roof design. It is designed to extend 120 feet from the last seat to halfway between the field wall and the field’s touchlines. Sixty feet of the roof is translucent, thus it lets in natural light. Another aspect of the arena’s configuration is the closeness to which fans can get to the field of play. The Red Bull organization is funding the entire construction of the arena, which will also offer 30 suites and 1,116 club seats.

The field is the centerpiece of the $1-billion Riverbend District redevelopment initiative here. The 135-acre project is a development of Bedminister-based Advance Realty Group and will consist of three million square feet of mixed uses that will be built in phases.

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