The New York Red Bulls soccer team is busy putting together its roster for the 2012 season. But behind the scenes, the organization is facing a legal battle over unpaid property taxes to the town of Harrison where the stadium is located, Bloomberg reported this week.
The Major League Soccer franchise, owned by Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz and named for the energy-drink company, owes $3.6 million from 2010 and 2011, court papers showed. The team’s argument that the land where the 25,000-seat stadium is located is owned by the tax-exempt Harrison Redevelopment Agency was rejected by Judge Christine Nugent in a Jan. 6 ruling in Newark.
Nugent also dismissed the team’s claim that it should be tax-exempt because the stadium serves a public purpose. Red Bull Arena officially opened in March of 2010.
Al Cifelli, tax assessor for Harrison, told Bloomberg that negotiations are pending for how much the Red Bulls will pay. The town has said the tax bill should be paid in full.
Harrison, with 13,620 residents, borrowed $39 million in 2006 to buy and clean up the site, while Hudson County chipped in $45 million for a parking garage and the team paid $200 million to build the Red Bull Arena.
Original plans for the industrial area surrounding Red Bull Arena were to include the development of shops and condominiums, neither of which has happened. In December, the town had to borrow almost $3 million to cover debt service on securities issued in 2006, according to Harrison’s finance officer, Bloomberg reported.
—ANGELA DAIDONE, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM