Prudential Center is a multi-purpose indoor arena in the downtown district of Newark in the U.S. state of New Jersey. The arena was designed by Populous (formerly HOK Sport), with the exterior designed by Morris Adjmi Architects. Opened in 2007, it is the home of the National Hockey League's New Jersey Devils, as well as the NCAA's Seton Hall Pirates men's basketball team, and the New Jersey Ironmen of the Xtreme Soccer League. The arena seats 17,625 people for hockey. Prudential Center is also known by its nickname, "The Rock", in reference to the corporate logo of Prudential Financial, the company that owns the naming rights to the arena.
The arena was built amidst financial concerns and years of speculation that the Devils would relocate. The arena is located two blocks from Newark Penn Station in downtown Newark, just west of Newark's Ironbound district, making it easily accessible via New Jersey Transit, Port Authority Trans-Hudson(PATH), Newark Light Rail, and Amtrak. At the time of its opening, Prudential Center was the first major league sports venue to be built in the New York metropolitan area since the Brendan Byrne Arena, the Devils' former home, opened in 1981. It is hoped that Prudential Center might play an important role in the revitalization of Newark.
For years, the New Jersey Devils had been the subject of rumors regarding relocation. Even when the team won the Stanley Cup in 1995, it was amidst rumors that the franchise would move to Nashville. Despite playing championship-caliber hockey in the 2002-03 season, the Devils only drew an average 14,754 fans to their home arena Continental Airlines Arena, an outdated facility that was not very accessible by public transit.
A project to build a new 18,000 seat arena in Newark, New Jersey first received funding from Newark's city council in 2002 when the team was owned by the Puck Holdings group. In 2004, former Lehman Brothers executive Jeffrey Vanderbeek bought the team from Puck Holdings and became a strong proponent of the proposed arena. Vanderbeek said, "The Devils need a new arena that can provide a game-day experience that is certainly equal to the best team in the National Hockey League and certainly equal to the product that is put on the ice." He also stated that he believed the arena "would take downtown Newark to a whole new level." After legal battles over both eminent domain and the city's financial participation in the arena project, the final deal was approved by council in October 2004.
Construction and fundingEdit
A seven-acre site for the arena in downtown Newark was selected, bordered by Edison Place on the north, Lafayette Street on the south, Mulberry Street on the east, and Broad Street on the west. The arena was designed by Populous, with the exterior designed by Morris Adjmi Architects. Initial designs were released in early 2005 and referred to the arena as "Newark Arena". Groundbreaking began on October 3, 2005 and a workforce of 2,725 union workers was employed to construct the arena. Financial issues, though, threatended to halt the deal. On January 24 2006, the Devils averted having the project canceled by submitting a guarantee in writing that the team would contribute $100 million to the arena, one day before their deadline.
Though construction was well underway, in late summer 2006, Cory Booker, who had recently taken office as Mayor of Newark, promised to reevaluate the deal and considered backing out. In October, Booker conceded there would be "a first-class arena built in the city of Newark, whether we like it or not", and soon afterwards, the Devils struck a deal including both property and monetary givebacks that appeased city officials.
The city of Newark pledged to contribute $210 million to the construction of the arena, using all of that money from its lease of Newark Liberty International Airport with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Devils paid for the remainder of the cost. Thus, no new direct taxpayer funding was required for the construction of the arena. Some taxpayer dollars, however, were spent on infrastructure improvements. These improvements were necessary for both the new arena and proposed private development that is planned to surround the arena. With the city also obtaining money from the leases of its tenants and building fees included in the cost of tickets for all events (including concerts, conventions, etc), the arena will most likely prove to be a solid investment for the city of Newark for many years to come. It is expected that this will be a catalyst for the revival of downtown Newark as well as the rest of the city.
Prudential Financial purchased the naming rights in January 2007 for $105.3 million over 20 years, opting to call the arena the "Prudential Center," though this is also the name of numerous office complexes around the country, notably in Boston, Massachusetts. The arena had previously been referred to as "Newark Arena". The $105 million sponsorship is reduced from the city's cost. Arena press releases have begun to refer to the Prudential Center as "The Rock" after Prudential's corporate logo.
Construction on the arena was completed in October 2007. The estimated final cost of the arena's construction is estimated at $375 million. In total, more than 18,000 tons of steel were used to build the bowl area and high roof, while 62,000 linear feet of ductwork were installed throughout the arena. The Devils had to play their first nine games of the 2007–08 NHL season on the road as construction on their home arena was finished.
For the soft opening on October 20, the Newark Boys Chorus performed at Prudential Center, which became the first use of the arena. It officially opened on October 25 2007 with a series of 10 concerts by New Jersey rock group Bon Jovi, featuring a star-studded lineup of opening acts, including Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Daughtry, The All-American Rejects and New Jersey's own My Chemical Romance.
The Devils played their first home game at Prudential Center on October 27, 2007 against the Ottawa Senators, who were the Devils' last opponent at Continental Airlines Arena (now known as the Izod Center).
On November 11, 2007, the first collegiate basketball game took place in the arena, with Seton Hall defeating Monmouth University, 89–81, in overtime.
Prudential Center serves as the home arena for the NHL's New Jersey Devils hockey franchise, who previously played at the Continental Airlines Arena (now the Izod Center) from 1982-2007, as well as the NCAA's Seton Hall Pirates men's basketball team, who also played at the Continental Airlines Arena from 1985-2007. The arena also hosts home games for the Xtreme Soccer League's New Jersey Ironmen franchise and will be available for select home games for NCAA's Seton Hall Pirates women's basketball team, the NJIT Highlanders men's basketball team and the National Lacrosse League's New York Titans franchise.
Ottawa Senators' Chris Neil scored the arena's first goal, while Brian Gionta scored the first goal for the Devils in a 4-1 Ottawa victory. The first hat-trick in Prudential Center history was netted by Jay Pandolfo, in a 6–1 Devils victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on October 31 2007, a game which was also the Devils' first home victory at the arena. The Prudential Center hosted its first Stanley Cup Playoff game against the New York Rangers on April 9, 2008. On April 15, 2009, the Devils won their first playoff game at the Prudential Center with a 4-1 win over against the Carolina Hurricanes.
For select Devils home games, the arena's practice rink is open to fans after the game for public ice skating.
In November 2007 and 2008, the Center hosted the semifinals and finals of college basketball's Legends Classic.
The New Jersey Ironmen played their inaugural home game at Prudential Center on December 1, 2007. A crowd of 13,429 was on hand to see soccer legend Pelé, who was honorary captain, take the ceremonial first kick. The Ironmen won this game 8-6 over the Detroit Ignition.
The arena also hosts the NJSIAA Public A, Public B, and Private State Finals for high school ice hockey.
The arena was originally intended to be the home of the New Jersey Nets, but Yankee Global Enterprises LLC has since sold the team and the Nets planned to relocate to the Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. However, lawsuits, economic issues, and a recession have plagued the project. The earliest the franchise would relocate to Brooklyn would be 2011, although these plans are still in doubt. This leaves two arenas in New Jersey competing with each other to book concerts and family shows. State officials, though, have called for the Izod Center to close since the Prudential Center opened. Although the Nets extended their lease at the Izod Center, Devils ownership has offered a public invitation for the National Basketball Association team to be a tenant in Newark. In the fall of 2009, the Nets will play two preseason games at the Prudential Center, a possible sign that the team could move there in the future.
The red and gray exterior is inspired by Newark's bricklaying and railroad heritage, while paying homage to the team colors of the New Jersey Devils, red and black. Fans approaching the arena from the front are presented with a view of the arena's externally mounted 4,800 square foot (446 m²) LED screen, one of the largest in the world. The screen is split up into thin panels with gaps in between, in order to prevent the fans' view from inside from being obstructed. Along the arena's east side Mulberry Street entrance are two large "entrance cylinders" named the Verizon Tower and PNC Tower, the arena's most prominent exterior feature. These towers take the fans up to the Grand Concourse, by escalator and staircase.
The interior's lower level Grand Concourse provides views of downtown Newark on the Edison Street and Mulberry Street sides through large windows. Prudential Center features separate concourses for the lower and upper levels, whereas the Continental Airlines Arena had one concourse for both levels of the arena. Throughout the Grand Concourse, jerseys of every high school hockey team in New Jersey hang from the walls. The arena also features many murals of players and memorable moments from Devils history. One 6,000 square foot mural encompases a long stretch of the Grand Concourse wall and features Devils Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, and Ken Daneyko, along with tributes to other New Jersey sports and Newark landmarks, with depictions that include Seton Hall men's basketball legends Richie Regan and Terry Dehere, Tony Meola, a boxer, and a tennis player.
Amenities and facilitiesEdit
As the newest facility to be used in the NHL, the Prudential Center features a large array of amenities. The rink area features four LED ribbons and an eight-sided scoreboard equipped with high-definition video screens. The 76 luxury suites available are the largest in North America. Personal dining, WiFi, and high-definition televisions are some of the many conveniences available in the luxury suites. There are 750 flat-screen televisions in total across the arena.
In the lower bowl's three middle sections are 2,330 Club Seats. These seats are colored black, are wider, and offer more legroom. Club Seat and season ticket holders have access to a 350-seat restaurant on the suite level in one of the end zones with views of the rink. Additionally, the Goal Bar, located at Suite Level One offers Club and Goal Bar seat holders terrace-style seating in a bar environment. The Goal Bar is where Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko do intermission and post-game analysis for Devils' telecasts. Club Seat holders also have access to the Fire and Ice Lounges, modern themed private bars intended to attract pre-game and post-game crowds. These lounges are located at the top of the lower bowl, behind the Club Seats.
On the Edison Place side of the arena at street level are the ticket office and the Devils' new 2,600 square foot (242 m²) Team Store. Attached to the Prudential Center are the Devils' corporate offices and practice rink, which contains its own locker rooms. The Prudential Center is one of only two NHL arenas with a practice rink (the other being Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets) and the only one with dual locker rooms and practice facilities.