The New York Red Bulls have covered parts of the upper deck at Red Bull Arena with tarps in order to reduce the number of empty seats on view at each home game.
The Major League Soccer team drew an average announced home crowd of 18,583 last year, down from 21,175 in 2017.
This year the team – based in Harrison, New Jersey – have announced crowds of around 15,000 for three games thus far in the 25,000-capacity arena but the actual attendances have been far lower.
The Red Bulls have not commented on how many seats have been covered up, why the initiative was taken or how permanent this move will be. “It’s not great optics for any team playing in a soccer-specific stadium,” noted former United States defender Alexi Lalas.
A stadium redesign could be in the works. “If we were to build the stadium today…we’d have built the stadium with a flexible capacity system,” Red Bulls general manager Marc de Grandpre recently said. “Now as we refresh…we have to rethink the environment. Fans’ demands have evolved.
“We have to look at more open space concept areas where we can create communal areas where fans can congregate and watch the game together, which we don’t have many of in the building right now.”