New Jersey's Red Bull Arena to Host Concerts

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/AP Images
Red Bull Arena prior to the game between the New York Red Bulls and the Montreal Impact played at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.

Despite the healthy number of options for fans and artists, the outdoor, 25,000-seat Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey -- between Newark and Jersey City -- sees room for one more.

The tri-state area -- the areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut abutting the Atlantic -- has always had a high concentration of large venues, from New Jersey's Izod Center in East Rutherford to the Prudential Center in Newark, Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Arena in New York. Further south is Holmdel, New Jersey's  PNC Bank Arts Center. Now comes the  latest entry into the live  music scene: Harrison, New Jersey's Red Bull Arena, a soccer stadium that regularly hosts 22,000 fans of the Red Bulls Soccer team throughout the season.

“It's a pretty competitive marketplace, but I think we fill a void with the size of our venue,” general manager Marc de Grandpre tells Billboard. “It’s outdoors, and provides a variety and options for promoters and artists.” Also, it's attractive to acts interested in hosting an outdoor concert and “can't fill 79,000 seats,” as Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones have. Says de Grandpre: they now "have a great venue down the road, 20 minutes from New York City, on the PATH,” and accessible from several highways.

Bettie Levy of BCL Entertainment, formerly an executive at Sony Music, will oversee talent booking at the venue and has spent the the last two months line up shows for next summer, adds de Grandpre, hinting, "There are a couple of local guys we would love to welcome here."

The Red Bull Arena opened in 2010, and has attracted a healthy fan base for the soccer team but only hosted one music related concert featuring Dispatch in 2011. Future bookings will allow artists to opt in or out of selling seats behind the stage. “We will have the design that is as flexible as can be, but we know we can accomplish up to 25,000 even if there are seats that are cut down with general admission seating on the field,” he notes.

While the soccer team plays between March and mid-December, de Grandpre says there are “plenty of windows” open in the schedule to fill with concerts, live entertainment and weekend festivals. The venue is even open to acts willing to play a show following a soccer game.

“I think as an organization we are ready,” says de Grandpre. “We have the infrastructure and the skill-set and we are ready to handle the extra challenge and opportunity and workload. ... The other venues are aware [we are doing this]. We talked to all of them. We have personal relationships with all of them. This provides a complement to the current marketplace, and ultimately we will be able to provide another venue and a different concert experience for concert-goers in the area.”