The New York Red Bulls first Town Hall of 2016 featured no profanity, happy fans, and lots of questions about stadium accommodations.
The Town Hall was hosted at Red Bull Arena on February 10th. The event was open to season ticket holders, allowing them to ask questions about the club. The open forum was moderated by MSG Red Bulls commentator Steve Cangialosi and the panel representing the team consisted of General Manager Marc de Grandpre, Sporting Director Ali Curtis, Head Coach Jesse Marsch, and goalkeeper Luis Robles.
With the team having performed well last season but fallen agonizingly short of a trip to MLS Cup - and having retooled in the off-season around the same core of players and coaches who brought the club its second Supporters' Shield in the last three years - fans took the opportunity to praise the team as well as ask several interesting questions. The entire town hall was approximately an hour and 45 minutes and it can be viewed on the Red Bulls' website.
1. Red Bulls Not Giving Up on New York City
Multiple fans asked Marc de Grandpre about the Red Bulls marketing plans, specifically in the New York City market. De Grandpre insisted that the club would not surrender New York City to New York City FC and said that the Red Bulls would emphasize traditional marketing methods (radio, television, and print) this coming season.
According to de Grandpre, the town of Harrison and Hudson County are committed to building a parking garage that will fit approximately 4,000 cars. De Grandpre didn't give a timetable for when the parking garage will be built, but said it would be a long term project. The warehouse next to the stadium, that currently provides parking space, is destined to be knocked down in order to build the new parking garage. The gravel lots in front of the stadium will continue to be used for parking.
3. Double PASS
One thing that may have flown under the radar is Ali Curtis' statement about Double PASS. Double PASS conducts thorough audits of soccer clubs and makes suggestions about how teams can improve in a variety of areas such as training methods, financial planning, and organizational structure. Double PASS recently audited the Red Bulls first team, USL team, and academy. Ali Curtis said the Red Bulls will look to implement one of Double Pass' suggestions in the coming weeks. Double Pass is an offshoot of the University of Brussels Department of Sport Management and has worked with the Premier League, World Cup Champion Germany, and current top ranked national team Belgium. Double PASS will have evaluated all MLS Clubs and U.S. Soccer Academy teams by mid-2017.
4. Red Bull II Will Not Be Playing at the Training Facility
NYRB II's search for a home will continue, as the team will not be playing at the training facility in Hanover, NJ. The training facility cannot be used because it does not meet USL stadium requirements.
5. Pub Partnership Program
Marc de Grandpre said that the team is looking to expand its pub partnership program from 16 bars to 24. Specifically, they plan on adding 3 to 4 bars in Brooklyn and a few in Queens.
6. Red Bulls Will Not be Starting an NWSL Team
Ali Curtis said that Red Bulls have no immediate plans to start or acquire an NWSL franchise. He said that if management felt it made sense they would look into building a women's team, but currently the organization is focused on its existing male teams. However, Curtis did state that the Red Bulls strongly support women's soccer in New Jersey and throughout the country.
7. Game Day Experience Improvements
The Red Bulls began to use an app called Appetize last season in order to cut down on the length of concession stand lines. The app allowed fans to place orders at certain Red Bull Arena concession stands and alerted fans when their food was ready. The club plans to add more concession stands that will be compatible with the app. The team is also looking to add temporary rest rooms on the lower plaza. Additionally, the Red Bulls are expecting to improve WiFi reception in Red Bull Arena sometime this year.
8. Stadium Naming Rights
The Red Bulls are currently in negotiation to sell the stadium naming rights. When the naming rights are sold, de Grandpre said the stadium name will be clearly displayed on the outside of the arena so that it is easily recognizable.
9. MSG Television Deal
The Red Bulls recently signed a multi-year television deal with MSG Networks to broadcast games. The Red Bulls will receive a revenue stream from this deal and according to Steve Cangialosi, 2015 MSG viewing numbers for games were more than double what they were in 2014.