The New York Red Bulls have covered sections of Red Bull Arena seating with tarps, effectively downsizing capacity at the soccer-specific stadium.
Coming off of a 2018 season in which they averaged 18,601 fans per game–good for 14th in a then 23-team MLS–the Red Bulls have made moves to lower the number of seats available at the 25,000-capacity Red Bull Arena. Sections in the stadium’s northern and southern ends have been covered with tarps, though the exact number of seats affected remains unkown.
For the time being, the club is not offering many specifics on the tarps–including the number of seats covered, and the exact motivation for installing them–but should disclose some more information soon. More from Pro Soccer USA:
Club spokesman Gordon Stevenson said the number of seats covered would be divulged to reporters before the team’s next home game on April 27 against Cincinnati. When asked for a team executive to explain the reasons for the tarps covering whole sections, he said the club would not comment beyond interviews given to other outlets prior to the Minnesota match regarding attendance.
He specifically referred to a story by Franco Panizo for sbisoccer.com published April 3, three days before the Minnesota match, in which general manager Marc de Grandpre characterized the team’s average attendance as “really positive” given that MLS is only 25 years old. He said only the Yankees, Jets and Giants average larger crowds than the Red Bulls.
The story referred to the tarps, but did not say how many seats were affected, how permanent they were or when the club decided to drape the sections.
De Grandpre was quoted saying the Red Bulls were going to “rethink the environment” of the stadium, possibly consider “more open-space concept” areas. He said renovating areas of the stadium would take years.
The 25,000 capacity at Red Bull Arena was fairly large by soccer-specific stadium standards, but the club has traditionally not been able to reach that number in its average attendance figures since opening the stadium in 2010. (It’s worth noting that the Red Bulls are also off to a relatively slow start in 2019, averaging 15,478 fans per game through three home matches.) Perhaps the decision to cover sections of the facility’s seating plays into a longer-term strategy of reevaluating the number of fixed seats offered in the stadium and installing more gathering places, but that remains to be seen for now.
Image courtesy New York Red Bulls.