New York's soccer team scores a European-style arena
After 14 seasons relegated to playing on artificial turf at 82,000-seat Giants Stadium, the New York Red Bulls took to the grass at their impressive new home, Red Bull Arena, for an opening exhibition game last Saturday.
It was a gloriously sunny, 70-degree day and felt like an exhilarating new beginning: the team, which struggled last year, came away with a 3-1 win over Brazilian club team FC Santos, where the legendary Pelé once played.
I was among the sold-out crowd of 25,000, which included the kind of hardcore fans you'd expect at a foreign soccer match. The Red Bulls supporters chanted throughout, waving flags, banging instruments, and getting everyone stomping on the aluminum stands and doing the wave.
Built to be fan-friendly, the intimate arena puts spectators right near the players; the front row is only 21 feet from the sidelines, with a low dividing wall. It's also more accessible than Giants Stadium—just a few blocks from the Harrison, N.J., PATH station (the PATH train connects northern N.J. and Manhattan, $1.75 per ride).
The Red Bulls will take on Chicago Fire next in their first MLS season game this Saturday, tickets from $22.
With team captain Juan Pablo Angel calling it "the best stadium in the country," and a Sports Illustrated soccer columnist in "breathless" agreement, could Red Bull Arena finally kick start professional soccer's popularity here?
Renew it: Passport Day is this Saturday
This Saturday, March 27, is Passport Day. Nationwide, 23 passport offices will be open Saturday for extended hours. Plus, you won't need an appointment to apply for or renew a passport. Additionally, other facilities will be participating—city halls, post offices, and more. To see the nearest event in your state, check out the government's website or call the National Passport Information Center at 877/487-2778. If you promised yourself this was the year you were going to take care of your passport, do it on Saturday. As we reported last month, the fees could get more expensive very soon. Who knows, there might even be balloons and stuff—some of the participating institutions are calling this a "Passport Fair." We'll celebrate anything that makes travel easier, so cheers!
Hemingway House named literary landmark
Ernest Hemingway's home in Key West, where he lived in the 1930s, was designated a Literary Landmark over the weekend. The house, now a museum, is a tourist attraction in Key West, not only for the original Parisian furniture and other items owned by Hemingway on display, but also for the six-toed cats that hang around the property (descendants of the author's own beloved litter). Hemingway lived here from 1931 to 1939 and worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and the Key West-set To Have and Have Not. The ALTAFF, a division of the American Library Association, rewarded the house with the distinction; it has been a museum since 1964. The ALTAFF has bestowed similar honors on the homes of Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner. Admission to the museum is $12 per adult and includes a 30-minute tour. Just a 10-minute walk away is the Casa Marina resort, which we recently featured in our Resorts Within Reach story. The house is located at 907 Whitehead St.
A reader writes: "Continental's new exit row fee is stupid"
Tell us what you really think, Linda Pfaender: Continental's new charge for a seat with more legroom is stupid. So some elderly person pays the $59 for the exit seat for more legroom but physically cannot understand or get the emergency door open??? When will the airlines become rational again? Why doesn't the FAA step in and stop this silliness? What happened to people's rights as consumers? How about the safety of all of the people on the planes? Please, someone HELP! Well, in case you missed it, here's the backstory: Starting March 17, Continental will allow passengers to reserve seats with 7–12 inches of more legroom. The fee for the seat reservation varies, but $59 per flight is typical. The perk is offered at check-in. But seats may not always be available because Continental's elite frequent-flier members continue to have first dibs on these seats at no charge. What do you think? Is Continental doing the right thing?
NYC launches new taxi sharing service
Starting today, there's a new option for transportation in New York City: taxi sharing. Now, New Yorkers aren't particularly known for their "sharing" abilities (as anyone who has stood in a subway car at rush hour can tell you), but this could change things. As a one-year test run, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission has set up three Group Ride stands. Cabs will stop at the stands and collect two or more passengers, dropping off at certain points along a particular route. It's sort of like taking the bus, but less crowded and faster. Fares are either $3 or $4 per person, flat-rate, depending on the route (quite a steal for a cab ride). The service runs between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. on weekdays, and although that's somewhat limited, it should give the city a good idea of whether this is working or not. The commission looked at GPS data to determine the highest volume of pick-ups and drop-offs during rush hour and then based the routes on that data. The sharing service is part of an effort to lower the city's vehicle emissions, gaining it some attention from sustainable blogs: Both the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities and Inhabitat, a design blog, have written favorably of the idea. Pickup locations are at W. 57th Street and 8th Avenue, W. 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue, and E. 72nd Street/3rd Avenue. All drop offs are along Park Ave., with the route terminating at Grand Central Station. There will be three more Group Ride stands opening in the coming year. Don't be afraid to try this for yourself—New Yorkers are friendly when saving money! Just back from New York City? Headed there soon? Check out our New York City page and leave your questions, comments, and recommendations.