Columnist George Vecsey, who witnessed the grand opening of the Red Bull Arena, writes that the only slight blemish for New Yorkers who know that our region has long been the center of the universe has been exorcised: "We have a soccer stadium -- a small stadium, to be sure, but a real soccer stadium with proper contours and sight lines. And not only that, but it is on a rail line. We have finally joined civilization."
Saturday's opening was, in some ways, more revolutionary than that of the two baseball stadiums that opened in New York in 2009. Those pleasure palaces, geared to luxury-box tastes in the Age of Madoff, merely replaced older ballparks essentially next door. This new soccer place — 25,000 seats, costing $200 million, real grass, real soccer contours — is an entire new locale, an entire new feel.
On his way to the game that the Red Bull won, 3-1, over Santos, Vescey thought about trains he's taken to other matches — Inchon, outside Seoul, South Korea; Saitama, outside Tokyo; West Ham and Arsenal and Chelsea in London; the cute little trolley curving through Milan to San Siro: "Soccer, the pulsing heart of world sport, is finally connected to the center of the universe. New York is finally perfect."