The New York Red Bulls appear to have cleared the final major hurdles towards breaking ground on their new training facility.
At a meeting earlier this week, the Morris Township Planning Board voted to approve revised plans from the Red Bulls to build their new training facility and club headquarters at a site in Morristown formerly operated by the Honeywell corporation. As reported by the Florham Park Eagle, the entire facility will cost $112 million, with the club expecting to move in after the first phase of construction is completed in an expected two-year timeframe.
With an expected handing of the keys in early 2025, the Red Bulls will have only slightly missed their initial target opening of 2024. The public approval process was contested mildly with some complaints concerning the possible bypassing of affordable housing edicts, while others involved the more petty concerns of noise and traffic caused by activity at the site. A source indicated to OaM that the club’s final plan largely follows the revised plan sent to the planning board in May, which involved one less full field than the eight displayed in the club’s initial renderings from last year, a small compromise to make in the completion of a key long-term project.
The Red Bulls have trained at their current facility in East Hanover/Whippany since 2013, but an approaching lease renewal as well as the rapidly-rising level of MLS and the growth of the club’s academy and reserve infrastructure increased pressure on the club to look at the possibility of a new facility. These plans accelerated under recently-departed sporting chief Kevin Thelwell, who earlier in his career helped develop training facility overhauls for the Welsh Football Association and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Morristown plan was finally announced in October of last year, with the approval process taking just a little over a year to complete.
The initial two-year phase of construction will involve the main first team fields and facilities, with the second phase to involve the build-out of peripheral academy infrastructure including residential dormitories. But the third phase reported by the Eagle is perhaps most interesting — buildings expected to host a planned women’s academy. Just days after Red Bull announced plans to launch a women’s program at Salzburg, it appears blueprints are in place to do the same in New York in the years to come.
By the time of its completion ahead of the 2026 World Cup, the new training facility is expected to be one of the most opulent in North America and a major outpost for the sport in the Northeast US. But it could also potentially mark a further burrowing of the club into the urban and social ecosystem of New Jersey rather than the metropolitan area as a whole. While many club operations have already been based at the East Hanover facility, the full relocation of club operations from the inner ring environs of Harrison to the leafy exurban climate of Morristown would further strain links to the city.
Whatever happens, the facility is the sort of big picture gesture that indicates that in the face of corporate upheaval and competition across town, Red Bull is planning for a long future in New York.