How Green Is Your New York (New Jersey) Sports Team: Red Bull Arena

PART 4 OF AN OCCASIONAL, 6 PART GREENSPORTSBLOG SERIES 6 SERIES ON THE GREEN-NESS (OR LACK THEROF) OF THE MAJOR NEW YORK-NEW JERSEY SPORTS STADIA-ARENAS CONSTRUCTED SINCE 2008

After a drought in new stadium/arena building in the New York City area from 1981 to 2007, an explosion in the construction of new ballparks took place from 2007-2012.  While only one of the 6 stadiums/arenas built in the NYC-NJ area since 2007 achieved LEED status, I thought it would be interesting to look at each to see how green they are (or aren’t).  Today’s column looks at the 4th of the 6, Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ, home of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) New York Red Bulls.  Click here for Part 1, which examined Newark’s Prudential Center, home of the NHL’s Devils; here for Part 2, which took a look at Citi Field, home of the Mets; and here for Part 3, featuring the new Yankee Stadium.

Red Bull Arena, a soccer-only facility which opened in March of 2010, is simply a fantastic place to watch a match.  Modeled on the classic soccer/football stadia of Europe, the arena features:

  • Seats that are close to the action (the first row is only 21 feet from the natural grass pitch);
  • An intimate seating capacity of only 25,000 fans
  • A spectacular roof that protects fans from the elements and adds to the intimate feel of the place.

Red Bull Arena

Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ

From a green point-of-view, the scorecard is more mixed.

On the plus side of the ledger, Red Bull Arena is more easily accessible by mass transit than MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands.  It is a few hundred yards from the Harrison PATH Station and is about a 15 minute walk from Newark’s Penn Station, which means easy access for suburban fans via NJ Transit and fans from rival cities Philadelphia, DC and Boston on Amtrak.  Yes, MetLife Stadium now has a NJ Transit station, making mass transit access easier there than when the Red Bulls played there (they played in the original, Giants Stadium), but the Meadowlands complex was built in an unpopulated swamp and the facility was designed with cars in mind.  Harrison is in an urban environment, abutting the Ironbound section of Newark.  I was unable to find statistics on the percentage of fans who take mass transit to Red Bull Arena but my eyeball test tells me that it’s far greater than the percentage of fans who use mass transit to get to the Meadowlands.

Red Bull Arena was built on what was a condemned brownfield site.  Before construction could begin, a massive environmental cleanup was conducted on the site and environs.  It is the centerpiece of Harrison Station, a high-density residential and commercial district that, when complete, is expected to be at the forefront of energy-efficient urban redevelopment.

Iowa-based Musco Lighting helped the Red Bulls score significant energy and cost savings ($215,000 expected over 10 years) with a state-of-the-art lighting system. Food services also are handled with energy efficiency in mind (projected savings figures unavailable as of now). The arena features waterless urinals.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Red Bull Arena was constructed  with a green building strategy in place.  As far as I can tell, recycled concrete wasn’t used, the roof is not green, renewable energy was/is not being purchased, etc.  As with the Yankees, the Red Bulls were contacted several times to comment on this story and to see if the construction of Red Bull Arena was greener than it appears but they did not respond.  This is mildly surprising to me, given that the Red Bulls and MLS can use all the publicity they can get these days.

However, they will get another chance as I will be attending a Red Bull Arena stadium tour in two weeks as part of the upcoming Green Sports Alliance Summit.  I will certainly press the issue and, if there’s any news from that tour, I’ll post it here.

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