Skip to content

Red Bull Arena hacks: 5 Things you need to know

Some insider knowledge on how to navigate what is a really nice arena tbh.

Common ground | Brisas Empanadas

Editor’s note: Hudson River Blue senior writer Michael Battista is one of the top journalists in the nation covering lower-league soccer, and a die-hard Red Bulls fan. We’re grateful for his valuable insight into American semipro and amateur soccer, and how best to experience the charms of Red Bull Arena. 

As the only writer on this website who enjoys going to games at Red Bull Arena, Thursday’s impromptu Hudson River Derby is a treat for me. The New York Red Bulls host New York City FC on Thursday in the Leagues Cup Round of 32, and that means there will be a lot of blue jerseys descending on New Jersey.

To be fair, it’s a common sight in recent years. You’d think after using Red Bull Arena as a secondary home facility plenty of New York City fans would know the tips and tricks by now.

Still, it might be helpful to give some quick advice. It’s not like I have much local lower-league soccer to distract me.

1. Take PATH for the love of God

Look at your calendar. What day is the Leagues Cup game? That’s right, it’s on Thursday — a weekday!

PATH trains will be running on a weekday schedule, which means going to Harrison is going to be fine. World Trade Center trains depart for Newark every five minutes. The 33rd Street to Journal Square trains depart every five to ten minutes.

You cannot complain about the train because this isn’t a weekend. It’s the one good thing this stupid Leagues Cup scheduling can do.

There is one drawback. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 8 pm ET, and if the match drags on then you run the risk of facing a 30-minute wait between trains after the overnight schedule kicks in at 11 pm ET. You better make it to the platform before then.

2. Or park in the Harrison Parking Center

If you decide to drive, the best advice I can give you is where not to park.

Do not park at the lot on the corner of Frank E Rodgers Blvd and Guyon Dr, to the left of the stadium. Everyone uses it, including non-soccer commuters. Once the game ends, all traffic empties onto Frank E Rodgers Blvd, and sometimes the Harrison cops make you turn right towards I-280. It becomes a bottleneck.

Do not park at the lot directly across from the stadium (the dirt patch). It has two exits. However, the Harrison cops will sometimes direct southbound traffic across the Jackson Street bridge into Newark. Northbound traffic is caught behind cars headed onto Frank E Rodgers Blvd.

Do not park at the shopping center parking lot or you will get towed. There’s a guy in a green tow truck who assembles a team to target any out-of-state license plate during game day. It’s a well-oiled machine. Honestly, you gotta admire the speed at which this man and his team ruin people’s nights.

My advice: Use the Harrison Parking Center garage next to the PATH station. It is a little more expensive, yes. And there are moments where it bottlenecks if the game is too crowded. However this is a weeknight game on short notice, so it should be fine. 

Enter the garage from the entrance on South 3rd Street. When the game ends and you exit back that way, you have two options:

  • Go onto Frank E Rodgers Blvd with everyone else
  • Go straight onto Burlington Street, turn right onto South 2nd Street, and you’ll find another entrance for I-280

However, let me warn you: If I can’t find a spot on the third floor near the elevator because I see too many New York license plates, I will key your cars.

3. Brisas empanadas are still king

It’s been five years since Brisas Colombianas Bakery opened a concession stand at Red Bull Arena. Despite a few changes, the empanadas from the Elizabeth-based company are probably the best thing you can eat at the arena. There’s a reason why they’re the official empanada of the New York Red Bulls.

NYCFC might have an MLS Cup, but Red Bulls fans get meat stuffed in deep-fried cornmeal crusts. Who’s the real winner here?

The empanadas are available in chicken or beef, and come with special dipping sauces. They have a little bit of kick but nothing crazy, and they’re a good deal for the price. 

But there is some controversy. In previous years, the staff and the empanadas themselves came directly from the Brisas in Elizabeth. This season things were taken over by Delaware North, the company that controls concessions at Red Bull Arena. Some say there’s been a dip in quality, but that opinion varies from person to person.

If it’s your first time eating one it will still be worth it, no matter how long the line is. However, if you want a way to beat that line…

4. Download the Red Bulls App to make eating at concessions easier

Make a fake email if you have to. I don’t care, I’m just trying to help you out. The New York Red Bulls app is annoyingly simple and a good thing to have while at Red Bull Arena.

Red Bull Arena, like Yankee Stadium, has express pickup lines at concession stands. However, unlike in the Bronx, Uber Eats isn’t the main option. Instead, it’s the Red Bulls app, which will allow you to place an order from your seat and pick it up when it’s ready.

You need to tap the top of the app to switch from Red Bulls New York mode to Red Bull Arena mode. That is where you make orders and such.

The app was updated for this year and, overall, the user experience is better. It doesn’t freeze or crash as much as it once did. Plus, the team has used it this year for light displays during fireworks events at the arena. The next one of which is on August 26, when the Red Bulls host Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF.

The app can also be used at Gotham FC games, too.

5. Look for Bud Light giveaways outside

Usually, during Red Bulls home games, the street outside of the stadium is turned into the BULLevard. There are activities, sponsored giveaways, and the like. There wasn’t much going on before the Atlético de San Luis game on Sunday, to be honest. But the Bud Light stand was giving away exclusive Leagues Cup merchandise, including scarves, pins, t-shirts, and more.