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New training grounds mean no excuses for Red Bulls

Mike Petke

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After experiencing first hand, as a player and a coach, just how difficult it has been for the New York Red Bulls to settle on a proper training ground, head coach Mike Petke would not deny himself another minute to inaugurate the team’s new grounds.

“I made sure I was there early to be the first person to pass the ball on the field,” Petke told reporters. “It’s incredible. I could relate it to moving from Giants Stadium to Red Bull Arena, the feeling I had being a part of this so long and wondering if it would ever really happen. Same here.”

While Giants Stadium was treacherous as a home ground, Montclair State University and the various other facilities the Red Bulls and then Metrostars settled on weren’t any better.

“We have been at Montclair for so many years and it wasn’t suitable for the players that we have and the environment we wanted,” Petke acknowledged, adding “we made due with it.”

Players have long complained, mainly off the record, about how undesirable Montclair was. Many of the 2012 Red Bulls blamed the surface for their infamous plague of injuries that haunted them most of the season. Juninho’s hamstring strain earlier this year was caused by a soft spot in the training grounds that adversely affected his run.

Aside from issues with the quality of the grounds, the pitch itself was limiting in terms of training. “Having one field at Montclair and having our grounds crew there 24-7 working as hard as they could, one field for that many years it is very difficult keeping it in game shape,” he said. “The field at Montclair is about 64 yards wide by 90. It was tough to translate to have that small a field and the space you are used to in a game not having that while we are doing 11 v 11 or working on coming out the back. It was tough.”

As if the dimensions weren’t an issue already, the presentation and facility capacity bordered on the edge of embarrassment – especially in light of the league’s addition of Designated Players.

“I remember when we signed Thierry (Henry) and Rafa (Marquez),” he recounted. “There was an underlying thought with certain people what their reaction was going to be when they go to the campus of a college, with a tiny building and a little field on the bottom. Now we don’t have that issue now.

“To move into this facility that Red Bull has given is is unbelievable. It has lifted spirits a ton. The excitement level is already high and the guys are anxious to get out there today and knock the ball around.”

While some will fall short of calling the new space in Hanover a “world class facility,” Petke thinks it holds up with the very best he has seen.

“It is world class as far as I am concerned,” he said. “It reminds me of the years I was in Europe in preseason, tournaments when I was a kid and driving out to an out of the way place and coming upon these fields and this building. It reminds me very much of that and that right there puts a stamp on it that it is truly professional.

“The size of the facility, the space they had, what we have included as far as weight training room, the physio room, the cafeteria, the lounge area and we aren’t even getting to the most important part which are the two full size grass fields which are the exact dimensions of Red Bull Arena,” he explains. “The grass is like a putting green.

“Just to walk out from the locker rooms and to see it perception wise, it makes any player feel wonderful about what they are about to do on that field no matter what it is. It should really raise the level.”

Whether with the Metrostars or Red Bulls, Giants Stadium and Montclair University became ubiquitous scapegoats for the team’s short comings. For Petke and the team’s staff, they expect the modernizing of the club’s facilities, along with their continued investment on the player front, to make such thought a thing of the past.

“It’s a professional environment. Everything that they feel they need to prepare today for the weekend game they have provided them in this facility,” Petke explained. “From the Arena to the practice facility to everything we try to do for these players off the field to get them ready off the field, there literally are no excuses anymore.”


  1. It’s actually in Whippany (next to East Hanover), a block from Route 10. It’s about 20-25 minutes from Red Bull Arena. Beautiful facility, really close to the street with small stands at end of lighted field. I hope they let fans in to watch practices.

  2. I’m sorry but where is the new training ground located??? and why is it not mentioned in the article? I remember hearing florham park but is that where it is?

      • thanks….in east hanover there are a few empty office parks of att and other companies that no longer exist….lots of green out there…..

  3. If there is one thing I’ve learned about sports over the years, it is that fans/management/the team will always have excuses.

  4. I never realised that RB’s didnt have a legit training facility. Curious about some of the other clubs training situation?

    • LOL, that’s funny, but seriously, let it go. I say it has been no excuses for the NJRB since they opened the arena and began spending lots of cash on players.

    • He didn’t say RBNY was better. Obviously, in the US Open Cup game, they weren’t, although they were missing Henry, Cahill and Olave.

      And he’s right. They are mediocre. Look at the standings, they’re 5-5-5, 6th out of 10. That pretty much defines mediocre.

  5. Any details on what the facility actually looks like? Is it just a pair of grass fields or is there a full out field house with a gym, locker rooms, offices, players lounge, etc.? A few years ago there was some renderings released of a truly world class building which had all the bells and whistles. I wonder how different the end product is from the original design.

    • Well they did mention a physio room, weight room and cafeteria and lounge on the article on the Daily ticker or I forget what other post I read here they did say it was a facility with 2 grass fields and 1 turf field…makes sense for when they will play New England, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver and maybe Montreal if they are hosting games in the Olympic Stadium which vs New York and Henry is a possibility. They did say the team would have administrative offices there and they did make it seem like they have full facilities, weight, physical training rooms, cafeteria etc etc

    • How far is it from rb arena? Is it a dedicated facility that only NYRB uses? Do they play other games on it? Is it affiliated with a university?

  6. Wow, didn’t realize how bad the Red Bulls’ training facilities were. Hopefully this helps! Great work as usual Dave, love the podcast.

  7. We’ll see how it translates to league results. Really, this is something that should have been done long ago…


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