Harrison, New Jersey — Sky Blue FC officially has a new home.
With new NWSL guidelines raising league standards, Sky Blue FC will be sharing a home with the New York Red Bulls. The move comes after the NWSL club featured at Red Bull Arena twice last season. Those two appearances in Harrison, New Jersey, brought the largest crowds in Sky Blue history.
Sky Blue began their Red Bull Arena journey last August. Building off the hype around the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Sky Blue hosted Reign FC for a 1-1 draw. A total of 9,415 fans packed into Red Bull Arena to support domestic women’s soccer. For their final match of 2019, Sky Blue hosted the Orlando Pride at Red Bull once again.
This time, 8,314 fans made their way to Red Bull Arena to see another 1-1 draw against Orlando. Sky Blue looked to lose out on three points, but a goal from Carli Lloyd in the 88th minute split the points.
Red Bulls general manager Marc de Grandpre called both events successful.
“Having NWSL matches here in Harrison is great for soccer fans in the New York metro area, and we look forward to providing Sky Blue fans, players, and staff a world-class experience every time they enter Red Bull Arena,” de Grandpre said, via a press release.
Meanwhile, Sky Blue FC owner Tammy Murphy said that she’s thrilled that the Red Bulls are helping grow women’s soccer in the United States with the partnership.
“Last season demonstrated that we are ready to take our players and fans to the next level,” Murphy said. “This move provides our professional athletes with the top-notch facilities they deserve and gives our growing fanbase increased access via public transit and an enhanced game day experience.”
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— Imani Dorsey (@Imdorsey96) November 18, 2019
Sharing a Joint Home has Worked Before
This is not the first time teams are sharing a joint stadium in soccer.
In the National Women’s Soccer League, plenty of clubs are sharing homes with either their MLS or USL Championship counterparts. The North Carolina Courage share a home with North Carolina FC. Real Salt Lake and the Utah Royals share a home together in the mountains of Utah. For a few years, the Chicago Red Stars and Chicago Fire shared a home at SeatGeek Stadium, but the Fire are now moving to Solider Field.
Sky Blue and Washington were the only teams to not have a permanent residence with a shared-host stadium. Washington is still in that category, as they’ll spend next season between three venues: Audi Field, Segra Field and the Maryland SoccerPlex.
Now, Sky Blue has a permanent location with upgraded facilities.
“After our players and fans experienced Red Bull Arena in 2019, we knew it was the perfect venue to host Sky Blue and showcase this incredible league,” said Alyse LaHue, Sky Blue FC general manager. “We’re extremely grateful to the Red Bulls organization for all their efforts in reaching this agreement, and will always remain thankful to Rutgers for their commitment to Sky Blue throughout the years. The move to Red Bull Arena builds upon the positive momentum we gained last season and will help propel our club and the league to the next level.”
Red Bull Arena is also a soccer-specific stadium. For example, there are teams in MLS — and even in the NWSL — that feature on fields shared with football or baseball teams. In the NWSL, Reign FC shares a field with the Tacoma Defiance of the USL, but also a baseball field with the Tacoma Rainiers.
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— Red Bull Arena (@RedBullArena) November 18, 2019
Now, it’s time to wait for the schedule.
Usually, the MLS schedules arrives much earlier than the NWSL schedule. However, now the leagues will have to work together with a new batch of teams sharing the same pitch. Keep an eye out for Sky Blue FC attendances next season.