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A New Jersey appeals court ruled Monday that the state's Major League Soccer franchise is liable for nearly $3 million in property taxes to the town of Harrison.

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

The team has paid the taxes, according to a team spokesman, but had filed a lawsuit to have them reimbursed.

In the lawsuit, the Red Bulls claimed they are 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.


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