Posted by: stan chelney | April 29, 2011

And the winner is…

Thanks to everyone for your terrific emails. You’ve proposed some excellent ways to introduce your family, friends, and colleagues to the NY Red Bulls. After decades of frustration, we New York soccer fans now have access to a gorgeous soccer-specific facility showcasing one of the most talented clubs in the history of MLS. We should be packing Red Bull Arena to capacity every home match, rain or shine. Together, we can make Red Bull Arena every bit as electric a place to watch soccer as those artificial turf facilities in the Pacific Northwest!

The winning entry, from future lawyer Tom Osadnik, is posted below. See you at the stadium tomorrow!


“It’s a simple thing: just a ball and a goal. But once every four years, that simple thing drastically changes the world.” Those words spoken by Bono in a 2006 commercial ring so true. The World Cup draws a global audience surpassing one billion people and is the pre-eminent sporting event. While the sport’s popularity has grown in the United States, it is still overshadowed by the “big four”. Unfortunately, it does seem that soccer gets its mention once every four years.

Many of America’s youth grow up playing the sport of soccer. Boys and girls run around soccer fields, competing on Sunday afternoons in October. So what happens? Why does the sport’s popularity dwindle as folks get older? It seems that once our youth reach adolescence, the pressures of college, extracurricular clubs, and part-time work opportunities mean that kids will abandon the pursuit of the sport. Those few that do exhibit athletic characteristics will pursue different sports, perhaps baseball or basketball, as these are heavily promoted and favored by the culture and the media.

The interest in soccer in the United States is obviously strong; the 1994 World Cup proved that, with record attendance and the establishment of a top-flight domestic league, Major League Soccer. Every summer, top European teams such as Manchester United come to the U.S. for pre-season tours. These games are typically sold out as Americans are eager to see the world’s best players take the pitch in-person. International friendlies at the New Meadowlands Stadium such as Brazil v. USA just after the World Cup drew a near-sellout crowd of 77,223. Last month’s Argentina v. USA was indeed a sellout crowd of 78,926. Clearly, the demand for competitve soccer, as well as the interest in the game is as strong as ever.

Unfortunately, this does not translate to the U.S. being a global power in the sport. While the national team has had success in 2002, reaching the quarterfinals, and taking second place at the 2009 Confederations Cup, there is still much more work to be done; certainly the resources are there. MLS is not England´s Premier League or Spanish´s La Liga, but is becoming a great league with each passing season.

It is critical that exposure to the sport is increased here at home. The proliferation of new teams such as Houston Dynamo in 2005, Seattle Sounders FC in 2009, Philadelphia Union in 2010, and Portland Timbers in 2011is a great thing. We need teams in new markets to increase the exposure to the sport. The proposed expansion to include the New York Cosmos in 2013 would be an added bonus. The U.S. hosting the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup is another step in the right direction and hopefully even casual fans will be exposed to the beautiful game. Following the tournament this summer will certainly be a respite for me, as I prepare for the New York bar exam. Hopefully, the U.S. will be able to emerge victorious, much like in 2007 and 2005.

I would use these tickets to take my dad to the game to take in my first game at Red Bull Arena. In keeping with the idea of exposing the sport to more and more people, I would pass along the two additional tickets for students at the Nicholas Copernicus Polish School in Mahwah, NJ. This is a Saturday-only school for students that live in the United States and want learn Polish history, geography and language. It’s obviously optional and requires a commitment from the students to wake-up early on Saturdays rather than sleeping in. My mother serves as Principal of this school and she’d choose the most deserving student to reward him or her for their hard work as the school year draws to a close. This would allow another family to share their experiences at an American soccer game with their set of friends and family.

I would use the opportunity to share my experiences with my own friends and colleagues; to describe the beautiful game, as it’s played and witnessed in person. Thanks to social networking tools, such as Facebook, I’d be able to communicate my experiences and post pictures of the beautiful pitch at the soccer-specific arena and to upload videos that capture the atmosphere of the stadium rocking thanks to the Empire Supporters Club and Viking Army.


Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,
Tom Dominic Osadnik

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