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Red Bulls to open stadium against Pele's old club Santos

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Red Bull New York will open their new stadium with a doff of the cap to the city's most loved soccer player -- Pele.

The Red Bulls will take on Pele's former Brazilian club Santos on March 20 as they officially open the new 25,000 capacity soccer stadium in Harrison, New Jersey.

Pele's emotional farewell to the game took place at Giants Stadium in New York in 1977 when he played the first half for his final club, New York Cosmos, and the second half for Santos in front of 75,000 fans.

A spokesman for the Red Bulls declined to comment on whether Pele had been invited to the opening game or if discussions were under way to bring him to the venue.

"We'll have an announcement at a later date regarding all of the Grand Opening events," said communications manager Brian Tsao.

"We are excited to invite one of the most prestigious clubs in South America to help us properly open our new home," said Red Bull New York general manager and sporting director Erik Soler in a statement.

"Santos has a tremendous following globally, including within the vibrant areas located directly near Red Bull Arena. We're thrilled to face a quality squad that features elite players including Fabio Costa and Neymar in the lead-up to the MLS regular season."

The Red Bulls have been poorly supported at Giants Stadium and hope the switch to their own smaller, soccer-friendly venue will help boost attendances.

(Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Ken Ferris)