UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — The New York Red Bulls II, the USL extension of the New York Red Bulls, unveiled their sparkling new home Monday, yet another piece in place for an organization that has made player development a priority over the past two seasons. RBNY II, the reigning USL champions, will move from Red Bull Arena to the campus of Montclair State University for this upcoming season.
Shaun Oliver, Vice President of Operations at Red Bull Arena and for the Red Bulls, detailed the work that he meticulously oversaw to develop Montclair State University’s ‘Soccer Park’ into a venue fitting for professional soccer. The facility, which houses the nationally ranked Red Hawks men’s and women’s soccer programs, will feature bleacher seating as well as a brand new press box.
Oliver also detailed some of the ins and outs of the facility that he helped design and plan, including expanded concessions. He said that he is working to make churros, a favorite at Red Bull Arena, available along with alcoholic beverages.
Phase 1 of the construction is completely done. There are still some minor tweaks, such as adding a camera tower on the opposite side of the field to meet USL standards, but the overall major lifting is completed and on time.
Still to come is Phase 2, which will include locker room facilities for both the Red Bulls and the visiting squad as well as an additional 1,500 seats that will round the turf adjacent to the current sideline seating. The capacity will then reach the 5,000 seat level necessary for second division professional soccer.
The hope is that this will be completed by May.
Until the locker rooms are completed, both teams will utilize Panzer Athletic Center’s facilities, a couple minutes walk from the field. The teams will also have access to nearby Dickson Hall before, during and after games, the adjacent classroom building where some space will be afforded to the Red Bulls.
Oliver said that branding around the field will blend not just the Red Bulls but also their partnership with Montclair State University.
Reflecting this, Todd Tumelty (head coach of the men’s soccer team), Rob Chesney (former head coach of the men’s team and now an assistant coach as well as being assistant athletic director) and Pat Naughter (head coach of the women’s soccer team) were on hand and included in Monday morning’s unveiling. They were joined by MLS commissioner Don Garber, announced as the first season ticket holder of the USL team, as well as Ali Curtis, the sporting director for the Red Bulls.
Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Montclair State University finished the regular season nationally ranked and made the Division III NCAA Tournament. The men’s team took the NJAC tournament championship and the women under Naughter made the tournament finals, losing on penalty kicks.
In brief remarks, Commissioner Garber noted the strong history of soccer in Montclair, where he has been a long-time resident. Nearby areas such as Clifton and Wayne are strong soccer hotbeds.
Oliver, who remembers when the team played their home games at Giants Stadium, has quite a task on his hand. He now handles duties at Red Bull Arena, the team’s training facility in Morris County and now the USL’s new home field.
But he said it is worth it.
“Logistically, yes. But the idea was to create a more intimate atmosphere for our players to develop in. Red Bull Arena is a world class stadium, I’m obviously very proud of it; I’ve been working here for the amount of time it’s been open,” Oliver said. “The fact of the matter is that a great crowd such as the 5,000 for the USL final, it is still a cavernous stadium for what we’re trying to accomplish. The idea is try to get a more intimate atmosphere, the fans that might not be able to make it out to Red Bull Arena all the time, to get to know our younger plays. Try to create something a little more competitive.”
Two years ago, Oliver was named by NBiz magazine as one of their Forty Under 40 for rising young professionals. He played college soccer at Brandeis.