USSoccerPlayers' J Hutcherson talks about the significance of Red Bull wanting to build Major League Soccer's first "real" soccer-specific stadium. Several MLS teams have their own stadiums, but these are leased out for concerts and other events. According to managing director Marc de Grandpre, Red Bull wanted to move away from the multi-use approach championed by Anschutz Entertainment Group, which is one of the main reasons the energy drink-maker decided to buy AEG's 50 percent stake in Red Bull Park, to be built in Harrison, N.J.
"The intimate experience was critical for us and it wasn't as important for AEG," de Grandpre said, adding that they wanted to give Red Bull Park a more European-feel: "We want fans to experience the game the way it should be" -- as a soccer-specific stadium, not another soccer park/tour stop for big-name pop acts.
Hutcherson explains that live events are a big part of AEG's business (AEG is also owner of the Houston Dynamo and L.A. Galaxy) so turning stadiums into tour stops is a perfect fit to their business. But AEG has a big competitor in Live Nation, a live events company chasing the big music triple play of artist, venue and merchandising. Live Nation already owns venues in many of the same MLS cities where AEG hopes to compete, and the company's recent signing of Madonna signals its intent. Why MLS wants to compete in that market is an interesting question, indeed.