Players and Staff on New Training Facility: 'It Doesn't Get Better Than This'
HANOVER, N.J. – To say the New York Red Bulls’ new training facility is an upgrade over what they had at Montclair State University (MSU) would be a disservice. To say it is has invigorated the club would be an understatement.
The Red Bulls officially opened their sparkling, new, multimillion dollar training center earlier this week and by all accounts thus far, the state-of-the-art facility that sits upon 15 acres of land and is closed off by a gate is one that compares to the very best MLS has to offer and to many in Europe. After all, there are several amenities to go along with the three fields (two grass, one turf) that are located on the south side of the training grounds and have been made to the dimensions of the pitch at Red Bull Arena.
Those amenities include are a lounge area, a cafeteria, a fully-loaded gym, locker rooms for both the Red Bulls and a visiting team, and offices for members of the coaching staff and front office. That also goes without mentioning that one of the grass fields (the center field) has a heating system underneath it that will allow the club to train even when it snows.
“It doesn’t get better than this,” midfielder Dax McCarty told MLSsoccer.com after Wednesday’s session. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s right on par with the Arsenals of the world because we trained at Arsenal and it’s certainly similar to something like that. The fields are amazing, they’re top notch as you can see, it’s like carpet.
“In general, the facility, it’s a place we can really take pride in.”
More than just providing the Red Bulls with a fancy new facility full of bells and whistles, the training center gives New York a real professional environment that simply was not had before. At MSU, the Red Bulls had a small training center and just one field they would practice on daily and that posed plenty of problems to the players and coaching staff.
The creation of this superior facility compares in a way to the construction of Red Bull Arena in 2010, which allowed New York to move from the cavernous Giants Stadium to a soccer-specific stadium. It also shows just how serious the club’s oft-criticized ownership is about fielding a winning team, which is something that many sections of the club’s fanbase have felt is not true because of the leadership’s lack of public appearances and discourse.
“I’d rather have a Mr. Mateschitz than a [Dallas Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban any day, to be honest with you,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke of the organization’s owner. “He’s a guy that cares about everything he invests in, he has a passion for it. He’s not a guy who’s there harping on everything and wagging his finger. He’s somebody who does his best in picking the right people that he trusts to oversee.
“He’s provided us with so much, which shows he cares right there, he’s not just throwing money away. He really believes that this is something worth investing in and he feels like this is going to help us, so it’s worth it for him.”
Few things are ever perfect, though, and that is the case with this training facility, as the commute has been prolonged for a good portion of the players and staff. MSU was approximately 20 miles or a half-hour drive away from New York City but this new center is about 15 minutes longer, and that’s if the congested traffic that is sometimes associated with the area doesn’t come into play.
“Obviously, the amount of time we’ll end up spending in the car a day is something you just have to plan for that, make sure that the timing of the session is right so we’re not caught up in traffic,” veteran goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who has a 45-50 minute commute, told MLSsoccer.com. “I think as we get more and more familiar with everything, then we’ll be able to kind of figure out what’s going to work and if certain routes are better than others.”
Still, the new ground is a breath of fresh air for the Red Bulls and you could easily see that on Wednesday as the players and even 69-year-old sporting director Andy Roxburgh laced up their cleats to kick the ball around on the fields.
“It makes it exciting to come to work, exciting to do what you love to do,” said Petke. “I really don’t have many words. I never thought it would happen, just like I never thought the stadium would happen. … I’m honored, I’m privileged.”