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Court: Red Bulls Must Pay $2.8M In Property Taxes

Tim Cahill #17 of the New York Red Bulls carries the ball against the Philadelphia Union at Red Bull Arena on April 16, 2014 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Tim Cahill #17 of the New York Red Bulls carries the ball against the Philadelphia Union at Red Bull Arena on April 16, 2014 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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HARRISON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Pay up!

A New Jersey appeals court says the state’s Major League Soccer franchise must pay the town of Harrison nearly $3 million in property taxes.

The New York Red Bulls have played at Red Bull Arena in Harrison since 2010. During that time, the town has sent the team a tax bill for about $1.5 million for the 2010 tax year and about $1.3 million for 2011, according to court documents.

The team has claimed in a lawsuit that it is exempt from paying taxes under state law because the property and stadium are devoted to “an essential public purpose.”

The Red Bulls have the rights to all revenues from the stadium including naming rights, while the town and the Harrison Redevelopment Agency are allowed to use the stadium for events such as high school or college sports championships or public ceremonies.

Monday’s appellate ruling held that while those other uses benefit the public, they are subordinate to the Red Bulls’ uses of the stadium and therefore don’t qualify the stadium for exemption under state law.

“We are pleased with the ruling, and it’s what we expected at the very beginning,” said Greg Castano, an attorney representing the Harrison Redevelopment Agency, a defendant to the lawsuit.

An attorney representing the Red Bulls didn’t return a phone message Monday. The team can apply to have the state Supreme Court hear the case.

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