It's easy to miss the rising skeleton of the Red Bull Arena in a riverfront area cluttered with buildings, bridges and bustle.
To miss the potential significance of the soon-to-be home of the New York Red Bulls would be something entirely different.
The $150 million stadium that will open late next season will finally give the 13-year-old Red Bulls a home to call their own. It also will give Major League Soccer a place to showcase the sport and the U.S. league on a regular basis to some of America's biggest corporate decision makers, an opportunity that some feel could have a momentous impact.
Moving from the 70,000-seat Giants Stadium with artificial turf, where the Red Bulls have played since their inception, to a 25,000-capacity natural grass facility without American football lines, could prove to be a world of difference. Instead of a cavernous building that is only a quarter filled, a relatively crowded Red Bull Arena that is noisy could create a change in perception, said John Guppy, who was the team's executive vice president from 2000-2005.
"There's no question, small stadium design creates a real soccer experience," said Guppy, now head of his own consulting business, Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing. "From a corporate standpoint, it's easier to attract those who you want showcase it to."
Slowed by seven years of financial, regulatory and construction delays, the first steel girder that was laid in August gave tangible hope to long-suffering fans, who have endured more than a decade of bad grass and artificial turf fields, American football lines and, worst of all, mediocre teams.
Red Bull Arena will be the eighth stadium purposely built for an MLS team since the league began in 1996. With its European-inspired design, seats within 21 feet (6 ½ meters) of the touchlines, a 130-foot (40-meter) wide translucent roof covering every spectator and 30 luxury suites, Red Bull boasts it will be the league's shiniest jewel.
It is the centerpiece of a more than $1 billion construction project across the Passaic from Newark in the town of Harrison that will include 800,000 square feet (74,000 square meters) of retail space, 1,800 apartments and condominiums and 350-room hotel.
Of all its features, its location less than half hour's drive from the countless corporate headquarters in New York may be its most important.
"The New York market is a very important one for any league - really for any national business - and this venue will deliver increased credibility and fan avidity to the club," MLS president Mark Abbott said. "In addition, the proximity and accessibility of Red Bull Arena from Manhattan will allow countless influencers from all industries to share the authentic soccer experience with us. That will yield immeasurable value."
Barring further delays, Red Bull Arena might be available when the team begins play in the CONCACAF Champions League in July or August.
The Red Bulls will start the 2009 season in March where they have the previous 13, at Giants Stadium _ which hosted games during the 1994 World Cup and which was home to Pele and Franz Beckenbauer when they played for the New York Cosmos.
The Red Bulls, and when the team was called the MetroStars, never lived up to the legacy of its soccer predecessors, but its run to the MLS Cup Final in November gave the club and its fans renewed aspirations.
Heightened expectations for both the stadium and the team's performances is something Red Bulls Managing Director Erik Stover wants to make sure the club achieves.
"It's not as simple as building it though. That's a message that we've sharing with staff for months now," said Stover, who took over the club earlier this year. " This is a piece of the puzzle, not the entire puzzle.
"So we do have to have a quality product on the pitch. When people come here for the first time, they need to have a good experience. It has to become a destination for the sport. "