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Turmoil: Harrison Braces for Soccer Siege Thurs. 3/21/2024 & Weekend

Mar 18, 2024
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The residents of the Town of Harrison are bracing for a tumultuous week ahead as the Red Bulls Arena gears up to host not one, but three sell-out soccer matches, starting with a game between the Ecuadorian and Guatemalan National Soccer Teams this Thursday, March 21, 2024, at 8 p.m. This influx of international soccer mania, compounded by the Lionel Messi effect, is set to bring the town to a standstill, testing the patience and resilience of its residents.

As the fervor for soccer reaches fever pitch, the subsequent games - the New York Red Bulls vs. Inter Miami FC on Saturday and the Ecuador vs. Italy match on Sunday - are expected to draw a massive 25,000-seat sell-out crowd, creating a logistical nightmare for the town. The allure of Lionel Messi has already proven its capacity to pack stadiums, leaving little doubt that Harrison's streets will once again be overwhelmed by the chaos of enthusiastic fans, especially the International matches. 

The last game between the New York Red Bulls and Inter Miami FC was a sell-out game but the fans were manageable.  Even the Red Bull fans were rooting for Lionel Messi but most won’t admit it. The International Game history at the Red Bulls Arena demonstrates that international team fans' enthusiasm for their preferred team is very passionate and over the top leading to a much different vibe at the Red Bull Arena and the surrounding neighborhood.

This isn't the first time Harrison's residents have had to navigate their way through the pandemonium brought on by sell-out games at the Red Bulls Arena. The management's decision to hold an International Game on Independence Day, which turned the town's national holiday gatherings into a spectacle of unruly jubilation, still stings in the collective memory of the community. Despite the backlash, Red Bull management has made no commitments to scale back on these disruptive events, much to the dismay of the locals.

Adding insult to injury, the relationship between the Red Bulls and Harrison has been strained through the years with the team's historical refusal to pay property taxes some years back that was settled after years of litigation, their prohibition against residents using the mini-field area at the stadium, and the decision to locate their Youth Soccer Club away from Harrison, despite the town's rich soccer heritage. Such actions starkly contrast with the honor bestowed upon the Red Bulls by Mayor James Fife, who recently awarded them the Key to the Town in a celebration of their "dedication" to Harrison and its community.

The Harrison Police Department's traffic bulletin, warning of "Massive Traffic Delays" for the Thursday game, is a grim reminder of the disruptions that lie ahead. It's a warning that echoes the broader sentiment of frustration among Harrison's residents, who feel increasingly sidelined in their own town.

As Harrison prepares for the onslaught of soccer fans, one can't help but question the true cost of hosting these international spectacles. The promise of economic boost and global recognition comes at the expense of the town's peace, unity, and well-being. The Red Bulls Arena, a symbol of pride for some, has become a point of contention for others, highlighting a growing rift between the interests of the few and the needs of the many.

Harrison's residents are left to navigate the fallout as the week unfolds, their patience wearing thin. The town's ordeal underscores the need for a more balanced approach to hosting large-scale events, one that takes into account the impact on the local community and seeks to harmonize the excitement of international soccer with the tranquility of town life. Until then, Harrison braces itself for a week of unparalleled disruption, hoping for a return to normalcy that seems increasingly out of reach.

The next Mayor & Council Meeting is Tuesday, March 26, 2024, starting at 6:15 p.m. on the Third Floor of the Harrison Town Hall located at 318 Harrison Avenue, Harrison NJ. You can attend and ask questions or make a statement during the Public Session of the meeting. Our Democracy only works if you participate in it.  Attending the Town of Harrison Public Meetings is an important civic duty. You don't like to speak in public?  Attend the meeting and just sit and listen, your attendance speaks loudly without you uttering a word.

Articles of Interest:

The Messi Effect: Is Harrison NJ Ready for Inter Miami FC v Red Bulls

Two International Sold Out Games in 4 Days Starting Sat. Sept. 24, 2022

Harrison NJ Residents Cry Foul Over Red Bulls Traffic Restrictions

EPA Says YES To Toxic Sludge In Harrison NJ

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