FourFourTwo's 20 best stadiums for soccer in the U.S.: Nos. 5-1
The time has come: We’re counting down the best stadiums for soccer in the United States, and we’ve arrived at our top five.
There will surely be debate regarding the order in which we have ranked this handful of spectacular soccer venues. Remember: We’ve considered several factors – from the actual stadium architecture, to atmosphere, location and amenities.
Off we go:
5. Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.)
There’s really only one reason to take Exit 16 off of I-280, and that’s Red Bull Arena.
Harrison isn’t anything to write home about, and attempts to revitalize the area around the New York Red Bulls’ home, which opened in 2010, have been slow to develop. But from the highway – and the PATH train, which stops right across the street – you can see a structure in the clearing which you’d be forgiven for mistaking as a spaceship. The stadium’s exterior is made of a curved metal shell unlike any other soccer venue in the U.S. The word “arena” is fitting, as the structure gives off the feeling of being insulated from the outside world. Parts of the partial roof, however, remain translucent to allow light to hit the field.
The inside is other-worldly. There’s no bad view in the house, and the lower bowl offers proximity to the field which rivals that of standing on the sideline of a youth game. You’re just that close. VIP seating, mixed in with the unique outdoor, midfield press box, sits next to the player tunnel and is effectively another row on the team benches.
RBA has hosted the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams, the 2011 MLS All-Star Game against Manchester United, and several major international games. It was the site of Abby Wambach’s four-goal performance that saw her break Mia Hamm’s international scoring record. The Red Bulls have won both of their Supporters’ Shields in the RBA era, and Red Bulls II hoisted the USL Cup there last year. The CONCACAF Gold Cup comes to the venue this summer.
The one big knock on the place is that the Red Bulls can’t seem to sell it out (those pesky blue seats!), but even at half-capacity, the design traps noise, and the place gets rocking. If you’re visiting the Big Apple, make it a priority to get out New Jersey and catch a game.