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"I'll believe it when I see the..."

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"shovels in the ground." - scores of Metro supporters, on the latest stadium promise (1996-2006)

If you are a Metro fan and live/have lived in the NYC area, you have probably looked out at least once from 280, from the PATH, from an Amtrak train, perhaps even from an plane coming down into Newark, and dreamt of a Metro stadium taking shape behind those great old brick walls around the titanic old Guyon factory in Harrison. I myself built Metro Park a hundred times from a PATH train window back in 2001 (God, it really has been a long time waiting), from the black and red-bedecked Harrison-Metro Park station, to the string of bars overflowing with soccer fans up the Boulevard, to the halo of light hanging over the place on the night of a big game. Someday....someday.

We Metrofans waited a very long time for yesterday's events. Giants Stadium represented virtually everything that held us back, as a team, a soccer league, and as fans. The day marking our escape from it should really be among the greatest, if not the greatest day in this team's history up till now. The fatted calf is still being saved for opening day in the new place, but the second-chubbiest should have felt very, very worried yesterday morning.

It's a shame, then, that I feel so cold about it all right now. My own feelings about "our" team aside (and I use that possessive pronoun cautiously) for the moment, it's hard (especially from a distance) to get a sense of exactly how worked up the remaining Metro fanbase really is. Perhaps that's not entirely fair; I wasn't there and so don't have any firsthand dirt on the days happenings (and given the area's industrial heritage, let's hope no sentimental fans dug up a scoop of earth as a memento, lest their children end up with three eyes, or they themselves develop an aggravating tumor by the weekend.) No doubt those fans who took the day to go down to Harrison were suitably excited. Yet from reading the boards, there's something curiously muted about the whole thing.

Perhaps it the result of senses struck dumb by the whole surreality of shovels really hitting the ground. Perhaps it was weariness brought on by nearly two hours of political pronouncements and mutual backslapping. Perhaps it's the fact that a substantial part of the long-time Metro core, guys and girls who kept the Metros experience passionate and fun and interesting and sharp for years, are gone now. Those who pledged years ago (seriously or not) to order season tickets at twice the GS prices the day the stadium was begun...many have vanished. They've grown older, moved out, had families, or simply lost interest in this. One gets the feeling that everyone, from Garber to RB to the diehard fans remaining, believes this will draw many of them back, along with the much vaunted six million other "soccer-affiliated people" in the region, according to some study Sakiewicz conjured up; one wonders how much they're all depending on that.

I think they're bound to be disappointed.

Metrofanatic's report is, as usual, the most articulate and comprehensive in terms of contextualizing the saga.

Then there's a report from The Kin Of Fish. And photos.

Photos from ESC head honcho jamison.

Press reports from Ives Galarcep, Frank Giase, Jack Bell, and the malodorous end of I95.

A couple things worth pointing out:

I have to question the conclusion made by a number of message boarders, and even tacitly by MF, that we might still be waiting for things to get done in Harrison - or worse - if Red Bull hadn't stepped into the frame. None other than Nick Sak admitted yesterday:

""This deal really got done last August," Sakiewicz said. "When Codey became governor, he sat down and said, 'What will it take to get it done and done the right way?' He set a positive environment.""

Would it have happened with AEG (or someone else) after all? Would we still be holding our breath? All we can say is impossible to say.
Still I'm hesitant to bow and scrape too much before Red Bull right now. But then you knew that by now.

Our Favorite Metro Beat Reporter, Galarcep often seems to have two modes - one critical to the point of being strident, the other rather more willing to repeat whatever rationale is coming down the line; never was this more in evidence than in the weeks after the RB takeover, when he swung from positively sycophantic to harshly questioning in the course of about a week. We'll allow him some leeway in playing both sides of the fence; it's gratifying that he, unlike so many others, brought the former attitude along and aired it out a little yesterday -

"Now, about all those fans who have given up. The ones who took one too many trips to an empty Giants Stadium only to deal with overbearing security and buy overpriced concessions and watch an uninspired and oftentimes disappointing team let them down.

Will they come back?

Will Red Bull even make an effort to bring them back, or will Red Bull help realize the worst fears of some die-hard fans who think Red Bulls matches will turn into energy-drink promoting sideshows.

Sounds a little far-fetched? Well, aside from the home-opening festivities in April that included a Shakira concert, what has the new ownership done to attract fans?

In case you haven't noticed, attendances have been steadily declining. No, not the numbers that are announced (which count all tickets distributed), but actually bodies in the seats. Yes, you can argue that the team on the field hasn't exactly done much to make fans want to turn out, but we are still waiting for all these snazzy marketing campaigns from a company considered one of the best in the business at creating buzz, and not just the energy-drink-generated kind."

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