March 22, 1997 - (AP) If it seems there are more people cheering the New Jersey Nets than there are fans in the stands, there's a simple explanation: The basketball team pumps up the atmosphere with crowd noise from loudspeakers.
Team officials acknowledged the deception yesterday after it was reported in the New York Daily News, but they would not provide details on how it's done or when it began.
"Some of this stuff is embarrassing," coach John Calipari told the newspaper. "I just shook my head. I said, 'Do we need to do that?' "
The team plays it home games in Izod Center, which seats 20,049. But with the team mired in 13th place in the NBA's Eastern Conference, empty seats are not uncommon.
The artificial cheers were noticeable during the Nets' 99-98 victory over Chicago on March 14, 1997. They drowned out booing by Chicago fans trying to distract Xavier McDaniel, who made four foul shots in the final minute to clinch the victory for the Nets.
"I didn't notice that," McDaniel said. "Is that true?"
Said guard Kevin Edwards: "I guess it's like a game show, where they have those applause signs."
While sports teams often use organs, driving rock music and scoreboard signs to get the crowd pumped up, the Nets appear to be alone in admitting to using fake crowd noise.
NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre said he knew of no other teams that used artificial crowd noise. He said the practice would violate NBA rules if the noise was blared during free-throw shooting. Otherwise, the home team can broadcast whatever it wants over the public address system.
Calipari said the Nets' bogus cheers will eventually be silenced.
"One day, you'll say it was only three years ago that they were pumping in fake crowd noise. You'll say, 'How far has this organization come?' "
Directions to Izod Center
(From Newark Airport) Take the New Jersey Turnpike North to Exit 16W (Sports Complex). Once you have exited, follow signs for the Sports Complex. The arena will be in front of you.
(From New York City) Take the George Washington Bridge to the New Jersey Turnpike (local or express lanes). Exit 16W (Sports Complex) to the arena.
(Bus from New York City) Port Authority Bus Terminal, located at 42nd and 8th. Take New Jersey Transit. Buses leave 2 hours before game continuously, and return up to 1 hour after the game. $3.25 one-way fare. 20 minute travel time. For more information call 212-564-8484.
The Will Call window is number 17 and located in the Box Office Lobby at the South Entrance of the arena (right under the Izod Center sign).
NETS TO BANK ON NEW NEWARK ARENA
May 13, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures
The New Jersey Nets will move ahead with plans to build a new arena in Newark and will leave the Izod Center in the Meadowlands in 2003. It also means the team won't support a state plan to build a replacement for the Izod Center. The arena's other tenant, the NHL Devils, have already said they want to build their own arena in Hoboken.
In notifying the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) of their plans, the Nets invited the Authority to participate, but did not specify what role it might play. Authority officials had no comment on the proposal.
Gov. Christie Whitman objected to the plan, saying both the Nets and the Devils need to share an arena for it to be economially viable. Whitman said whether the arena is in Newark, Hoboken or the Meadowlands, two teams must share the venue to cover the overhead. While the team are willing to share a venue, they cannot agree on where a new arena should be located.
The Devils have made their pitch for a new 18,500-seat arena in Hoboken as part of a $270 million entertainment and retail development. The arena would have 100 luxury suites, 3,000 club seats and theme restaurants. It would open by 2003.
The Devils say they will invest $200 million in the project and want the public to pay $30 million. Private investors will put up parking structures, retail and theater space. The Nets are asking for $100 million in public financing and also want to build a new stadium for the MLS MetroStars. Both groups feel they can make it work without the other team, but they would also like to share a venue. However, the Devils feel their best prospects are in Hoboken.
The NJSEA proposal calls for a new $200 million arena that includes another $100 million for renovations to Giants Stadium. NJSEA hopes the teams will want to play in the new building, but it has been designed to be viable even if the Nets and Devils leave. The arena would be supported by $165 million in commercial development including restaurants and retail shops in a plaza central to the arena, Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Race Track. The area would be able to generate revenue from all the venues when crowds are drawn to the area.
The new arena would feature 88 to 100 luxury suites, compared to 29 at Izod Center which would be replaced in the deal. Eight suites would be rented for single events and they would hold up to 300 persons total. Restaurants, bars, team offices and 2,666 club seats would be added. There are no club seats now. The arena would seat 18,436 fans for hockey and 19,136 for basketball.
The MLS MetroStars may be the deciding factor in whether a new arena for the New Jersey Nets is built in Newark. Because the MetroStars' lease at Giants Stadium expires in 2001, the soccer team is under pressure to start construction on the venue. If that is delayed, the team would either have to work out a deal to stay at Giants Stadium or accept an offer from developers in Elizabeth, NJ for a new home there. The loss of the MetroStars' stadium would be a loss to the Newark plan because the arena and stadium are part of a plan to revitalize the downtown.
NETS GET FINANCING FOR NEW ARENA
July 8, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures
Prudential Insurance has promised to lead an investment group that will provide up to $170 million in financing to the New Jersey Nets in their effort to build a new arena in Newark. The financing, which includes a two year construction loan and a 20 year mortgage, is contingent on a feasibility study of the arena and local infrastructure. The team hopes the announcement will boost interest in the $290 million arena by other investors. Prudential will put up to $80 million of its own money into the project.
In its pitch to Prudential, the Nets say the arena will house the NBA team plus an NHL or IHL team. That would mean the Nets hope to persuade the Devils to abandon their plan to build a new arena in Hoboken. The Devils have already brought Cablevision Systems in on their deal as a sponsor. Another arena proposal has been made by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority which is willing to replace Izod Center at the Meadowlands with a new venue for the teams. Both the Nets' and the Authority's plans require public funding. The Devils say they only require public funds for infrastructure work. Prudential says its proposal is not contingent on getting the Devils or another team into the arena.
June 6, 2003
Devils-Nets Home doesn't Look
Like Home of Champions
By Rick Hampson, USA Today
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Sometimes sports is more than a game. Sometimes it seizes hold of a community, enthralling it, uniting it, making fans and non-fans feel part of something bigger than themselves. That's how it was in New York in 1969, when the Mets, after years of epic futility, won the World Series. Years later, the columnist Pete Hamill said it was the last time when everyone he knew was happy.
That's how it should be here in the Meadowlands, where the New Jersey Devils and the New Jersey Nets have a chance to become the first teams from the same place to win NBA and NHL championships in the same season. It's a chance to step out of New York's shadow, to stop those stupid New Jersey jokes about the mob and the air, to give an amorphous suburban region with dozens of cities, boroughs, towns and villages a common cause.
But it's just not happening.
The problem isn't on the ice or the floor. It's on the airwaves, at the bars, on the streets. Devils-Nets fever is not highly contagious. For every one person excited by the confluence of possible championships, there seem to be seven who don't care.
Listen to Matt Angrist, a senior at Northern Valley Regional High School in Demarest: "Every year near this time I see the Devils hanging around. After a while, it just gets monotonous seeing them always win. As for the Nets, I hope they lose. Every Nets fan jumped on the bandwagon and probably couldn't name five players three years ago. Disgusting."
If Angrist had spoken like that about the Pirates in Pittsburgh in 1960, or about the Bruins in Boston in 1970, he would have had to eat dinner with a spoon.
But even the mayor of the town where the Nets and Devils play sees little sign of Jerseymania.
Not like 'Giants in Super Bowl'
"It's not like the times the Giants were in the Super Bowl," says James Cassella, referring to the NFL team that plays in the Meadowlands but still has "New York" in its name. "People who had no interest in sports were interested. You had the office pools, the parties. I'm a Nets and Devils fan, but this year just isn't like that."
This year the Devils are tied with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim at two games each in the NHL's best-of-seven-game Stanley Cup Finals. The Nets, meanwhile, trail the San Antonio Spurs one game to none in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.
Both New Jersey teams play at Izod Center, whose site occupies a vast swath of this borough of about 9,000 people. It's the first time in a decade that teams from the same place have made the NBA and NHL finals in the same season.
Mayor Cassella says his constituents are excited by the prospect of dual titles, then adds, "We're just as excited that the high school baseball team is playing for the state championship on Saturday."
"The average man in the street in Jersey isn't caught up in this," says Serge Krikorian, an insurance agent who holds Devils and Nets season tickets. "It's a disgrace. It breaks my heart that these things happen. I've discussed this with hundreds of friends. ... And I still can't figure it out."
There are many explanations for why the Nets and Devils aren't the talk of the mall. Some of the more prominent scapegoats:
•Their arena. Izod Center is a charmless, cramped, early Reagan-era building that strikes many visitors as sterile as well as decrepit.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman calls it "outdated and inaccessible." NBA Commissioner David Stern says it "needs to be replaced." New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority President George Zoffinger says it "just doesn't work."
Translation: It has too few luxury suites and too little concourse space for stalls selling memorabilia, team gear and food.
•Their location. The arena is surrounded by a sea of asphalt and a river of highways. It is virtually unreachable by mass transit, and thus a tough commute for Manhattanites, many of who are too cool to drive.
•Their attendance. Despite having the NHL Eastern Conference's second-best record this regular season, the Devils had 3,622 empty seats at their home playoff opener against the Bruins. They logged three sellouts during the season.
The Nets averaged about 15,000 fans a game in the 20,000-seat arena, making them 23rd out of 29 NBA teams in home attendance. Nets forward Richard Jefferson has said the team plays before more people on the road than at home. At Izod Center, star guard Jason Kidd has told The New York Times, "The seats stand out because there's no one in them."
•Their owners. Both teams are owned by YankeeNets, a company headed by New York Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner and partners. They have said they want a new arena in nearby Newark partly financed with public funds. That has tended to undercut local support.
"If they both win, are they going to move the teams?" asks Teaneck's Billy Willets, who says he has gone to 10 Nets games and 10 Devils games this season. "Why should we support a team that's going to move?" His fear: The teams will play well, the owners will get a new arena, ticket prices will rise and the fans "will never be able to go to a game again."
•Their community. Or their lack of one. Unlike most big-league teams, the Nets and Devils have no substantial local or regional political entity with which to identify. Although the arena is in East Rutherford, the borough's population could fit inside it two times.
Rob Lang grew up in New Jersey. Now he's an expert on urban areas. His view: "It's hard to be Titletown, USA, when there is no town."
"We don't have a real city for this team, I guess," Devils defenseman Tommy Albelin says with a shrug.
•Their competition. In the northern part of the state, the Devils and Nets compete for fans with the New York Rangers and Knicks; in the south, they face the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers.
The city teams have been in their present locations longer. The Devils hear it all the time: "You're great, but I'm a Rangers fan." Others aren't as subtle. Devils fan Mike Miserendino of Staten Island says Rangers fans "will try to jump on anything. 'You can't even sell out a playoff game. Your style of play is boring. You don't know anything about hockey.' "
•Their fans. There are Nets fans and there are Devils fans, and rarely do the twain meet. You see relatively few Devils bumper stickers at Nets games, and vice versa, and there's not much overlap between season ticketholders.
•Themselves. Why should fans be swept up in cross-sport enthusiasm when the players aren't?
Although some Devils know something about basketball, the Nets seem to casually follow the Devils but not hockey in general.
"I always wonder why they fight so much," the Nets' Dikembe Mutombo says of pro hockey players. "I wouldn't want to leave my house and go to work where someone beat me up in my face and I end up in the surgery room every night."
Nets coach Byron Scott, forward Brian Scalabrine and Jefferson have attended at least one Stanley Cup Finals game. Guard Lucious Harris says he never has been to a hockey game. He'd like to go, sort of, but says "most of the time, on your day off, you just want to rest. You say you're going to go, but all of sudden that day off looks a lot better."
Pro athletes often attend pro games as guests of the house and get a nice hand when they enter. They probably don't even have to buy their own popcorn. If they don't want to go, why should anyone else?
Stuck in the middle
New Jersey always has been caught between New York and Philadelphia — "a valley of humility between two mountains of conceit," as Ben Franklin put it. Somewhere along the line, a sense of humility became one of inferiority. "We're used to playing second fiddle," Mayor Cassella says.
In politics, for instance, statewide candidates in New Jersey must hope New York- and Philadelphia-based television stations cover their campaigns, and they must raise enough money to advertise in both markets.
The Nets' arrival in the mid-1970s and the Devils' in the early '80s promised at least to raise the state's sports profile. But it didn't happen immediately. The Devils were denounced by the great Wayne Gretzky as a "Mickey Mouse" organization. The Nets, much worse for much longer at the Meadowlands, were known for piping canned crowd noise into the arena.
But the concurrent championship series promised to bury those memories like a mobster in cement. Gov. James McGreevey has hailed the arena as "the center of sports greatness" and said its teams "will bring increased pride and distinction to the state." According to state Sen. Paul Sarlo, who represents the Meadowlands' district, "The eyes of the nation are looking here, at the crown jewel of winter sports."
Forget the eyes of the nation; Mike Wallstein of Fair Lawn says the state, "with the Nets and Devils, is the center of the universe. Jersey finally is getting its due."
Even Wallstein's business partner is coming around. Drew Paterno moved to New Jersey from New York about 25 years ago but never fully reconciled himself to the fact. He's apt to tell people he's really a New Yorker — just staying here for the time being.
But with the Nets' and Devils' success, he says, "I'm tempted to tell folks I'm from Jersey!"
Chris Dolan, a high school senior from Demarest, feels the same vibe. "I was around when they both sucked. It's a great feeling to see them at the top," he says. "I take pride in the swamp now — and the Jersey Turnpike."
Maybe both teams will win and New Jersey finally will experience a transcendent sports moment. But — with Jersey there's often a but — there also are worries about the future.
• Will the teams move to Newark? The smart money says probably not, but Newark Mayor Sharpe James keeps touting the prospects of an arena in his city.
• Will Kidd, whose contract expires this summer, leave to play for another team? The smart money says probably not. One potential suitor, San Antonio, seems more smitten by the day with its own point guard, young Tony Parker.
• Where, in the absence of a local answer to lower Manhattan's Canyon of Heroes, would victory parades be held? On a highway offramp? In a shopping mall?
The smart money says probably not. Any parade most likely will be held where it was the last time the Devils won the Stanley Cup: the arena parking lot.
Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko says he doesn't know where the parade should be held, but he knows this much: "That's such a nice problem to have." And one not facing New York or Philly.
Contributing: Roscoe Nance in San Antonio, Jill Lieber, Tom Pedulla, Kevin Allen, Melissa Geschwind, Ian O'Connor, Michelle Oh, Julie Gordon
THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell
January 20, 2001 - Opened in 1981, The Continental Airlines Arena is the home to the NHL New Jersey Devils and the NBA New Jersey Nets, as well as to the Seton Hall Pirates college basketball team and numerous minor sport franchises. The facility was also home to the NCAA mens basketball Final Four in 1996. This arena i part of the Meadowlands Sports Complex which includes Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Racetrack. The building is surrounded by expressways and surface parking. There is no adjoining neighborhood and no ambience around the facility whatsoever - just pavement. The building itself still looks somewhat futuristic and modern, with the corporate name emblazoned across the roof and a tall dot matrix marquee along the highway.
|Izod Center Ranking by USRT|
|Fan Support|| 2|
|Concourses/Fan Comfort|| 4|
|Bonus: Sly the Mascot|| 2|
|Total Score|| 35.5|
If you enter at the ground level where the ticket offices are, there you will find a handsome display of the New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame. The wide single concourse which surrounds the building is all skylit to the outside, providing ample natural light during the day. Concession stands and merchandise venues are very bright and attractive. We could not find a main team merchandise store, but there is a ground floor restaurant/lounge called Winners for premium ticket holders.
Being an 80's arena, there are no club seats, but there are some suites at the top of the 100 level.
The arena bowl is broken into two levels, both accessed from the single concourse. A four sided scoreboard with video boards is in the center, and there are four additional video boards hanging from the rafters in each corner. In each end zone are two huge dot matrix boards, and along the balcony are small information boards for out of town scores, shots on goal, etc. From a distance this information was hard to see. The bowl itself is vertical and cavernous, and does not lend itself to an intimate feel at all, especially with oceans of empty seats at the Nets game (the Devils game was a sellout).
The best item we could find was the hand carved sirloin and turkey sandwiches. A tall draft beer is still only $3.00!
The Devils proudly display their two Stanley Cup banners along with smaller divisional titles. The Nets have 5 retired numbers and two ABA titles..(have we not seen all 10 ABA title banners between here and Indiana???) sadly for them, their best days were played when they were on the Island and their icon was a man named Dr. J. Also, Seton Hall has banners honoring their '89 run to the Final Four along with Big East title winners. Finally a banner honoring Ashbury Park, NJ's contribution to the popular music world, The Boss- Bruce Springsteen.
We will try to keep this short... we were given major hassles by the Nets people, and this was regarding the same problem we have had in some other venues..namely, the quest to take a simple picture of the playing surface and logo from the center 100 level seats. The ushers would not let us pass.. we went to "customer service" for assistance, explained who we were and our project, only to encounter four scowling faces who were unsympathetic and told us to "write a letter". We did manage to take our photos after the game, only after some skullduggery on our part to get downstairs for our shots, and as we were finishing up, we caught the sight of a security guard and two ushers from the corner of our eyes, converging on us as they were talking into their walkie talkies. We hightailed it out of there fast! Our suggestion to the New Jersey Nets is this... why don't you guys furnish each of your ushers and your customer service people at Gate A with a mean german shepherd on a leash. That would complete the scene nicely.
Things that Caught our Eye - in each section there is an alcove leading to the bowl. Outfitted in every alcove is a television monitor mounted from the ceiling. Fans returning to their seats and waiting for a whistle miss nothing. Nice, nice touch! We are amazed that we have not seen this done anywhere else.
"Sly's Candid Camera"
Sly is the mascot for the Nets, and they produce a hilarious clip modeled after the old Candid Camera show. In the skit we saw during a media timeout, Sly was in a shopping mall pretending to be a mannequin. Every time a child or a teenager ventured closeby he lunged after the kid. The fans were in stitches! Allen Funt would have been proud.
Sly's House. Sly has a set out in the concourse. Children can line up and have their picture taken during halftime. Nice photo op for the fans.
This arena is a classic example of what was expected of a sports facility during the time that it was built. Number one, to get fans into the building and into their seats to watch an event and give them the ability to purchase basic necessities such as concessions, souvenirs etc.. (Unlike today's more modern facilities that offer a more complete interactive entertainment and shopping experience). Number two, the in-house revenue is to come from those who buy tickets to watch from the main seating areas. While today we see more and more of an emphasis on club seating (almost non-existent at the time) and many more suites all with its amenities (in seat customer service, opportunities for fine dining and the like) Finally, the idea that an arena is simply a structure and the main event being held within its confines is the attraction. Unlike today in which the newer facilities are as much a part of the experience as the events themselves. There is talk about a new building here, but it will be a while yet before a shovel goes into the ground. If you are looking for the ultimate NHL or NBA experience, we would definitely steer you away from the Continental Airlines Arena.
NEW JERSEY SEEKS TO KEEP NETS
October 23, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures
East Rutherford, N.J. - Calling construction of a Brooklyn arena "unlikely at best," New Jersey
Sports and Exposition Authority chairman Carl Goldberg said he is interested in offering the Nets a chance to take a stake in Izod Center to keep the Nets there long term.
Such a move would include renovations to the aging arena in the Meadowlands that has
already lost the Devils to Newark.
Goldberg's remarks, which came during a public session of a real estate conference in Teaneck,
echoes a growing chorus of those who question whether owner Bruce Ratner can come up with
financing for his proposed $950 million arena project in Brooklyn, which has been downscaled and
delayed since it was rolled out more than four years ago.
Goldberg said there have been no discussions about any proposal with anyone in the Ratner
organization. He declined to discuss more details.
Nets chief executive Brett Yormark said the team isn't interested in any proposal to keep the
team in New Jersey.
"I obviously respect Carl, but my only reaction is that we're unequivocally moving to Brooklyn,"
Some financial experts and state and city officials who have heard the developer's private pleas
for more government aid say the failing economy and frozen credit markets has created a far
bleaker picture for the project, called Atlantic Yards.
Earlier this month, a self-imposed deadline came and went for Ratner's investment banker
Goldman Sachs, which publicly promised to have a financing secured by Oct. 1.
That followed another setback days earlier, when Ratner said ongoing legal disputes had again
pushed back the groundbreaking for the arena. Originally slated to open in 2006, and most
recently in 2010, the Nets' new home will now not be ready before 2011.
"The present litigation will be resolved, we expect a favorable ruling sometime in the spring,
and then we'll break ground," Yormark said. "The sponsors are behind us, we continue to sell
inventory at Barclays Center, and the understanding throughout the marketplace that the project
will go through has not changed." (Newark Star Ledger)
IZOD CENTER SETS RECORD
November 20, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures
East Rutherford, N.J. - The Izod Center is reporting a record $14 million in gross ticket sales for October - the highest-grossing month in the Meadowlands arena's 27-year history, in spite of the opening of the rival Prudential Center in Newark last year.
"We are all aware that these are difficult times for the American consumer, but people need
entertainment and diversion," said New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority President Dennis
The state took in an estimated $1 million in sales tax revenue from the events, an agency
Twenty events took place at the Izod Center last month, including seven concerts and
multiple-night family shows such as the Tour of Gymnastics Superstars and Walking with
Sports authority officials said the Meadowlands arena has featured more than 170 events - a
typical number for the facility - since Prudential Center opened 12 miles away just over a year ago.
The Prudential Center played host to nearly as many events in that span - backing up the
sports authority's previous claims that the addition of a second North Jersey arena would lead to
expanded entertainment opportunities in the region, and not a dividing up of a similar number of
"There is a strong market for staging the best events in a convenient and well-run facility,"
Robinson said. "And the future is only looking brighter in the years ahead at the sports complex."
Each facility is booked for more than 40 dates annually for their respective major professional
sports tenants - the Nets basketball franchise at Izod Center and the Devils hockey team in
Newark. The Prudential Center also is home to Seton Hall University basketball and the Ironmen
indoor soccer team. (Bergen Record)
IZOD THRIVES DESPITE NEWARK COMPETITION
December 24, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures
East Rutherford, N.J. - The Izod Center, maligned by some as old and outdated, once again is
one of the 10 highest-grossing arenas in the world, according to Billboard magazine's annual
The Prudential Center, which opened in Newark in October 2007, did not make the list.
The magazine found that the Meadowlands arena, originally named for former Gov. Brendan
Byrne and then for Continental Airlines, had gross revenues of $37.8 million in the period from
Nov. 14, 2007 - three weeks after Prudential Center opened - until Nov. 11, 2008. The figures don't include regular tenants, such as the Nets at Izod Center and the Devils at Prudential.
Izod Center placed 10th worldwide and fourth in the United States for arenas with 15,000
capacities or more, behind Madison Square Garden (first), Staples Center in Los Angeles (eighth)
and HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. (ninth).
"We've always maintained that the loss of the Devils to Newark would not mean the end of the
Meadowlands arena, and this just is a validation of that," said state Sen. Paul Sarlo. "The
availability of more attractive dates for concerts and family shows is a help, and I think the Izod advertising and their new look have added to the credibility of the place."
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo called in January for state officials to close the
Izod Center, citing what he said were promises by several previous governors to do so.
DiVincenzo said gross revenues aren't the most important factor in determining an arena's
"I want to look at the particulars, at the bottom line and the real costs, and whether anything
was written off somewhere else," DiVincenzo said. "I'm happy for Izod, but the fact is that you have one facility that is very old and very outdated, and one that is new. You can't renovate an old building and make it look like new, plus let's look at who is paying for the renovations."
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority released its annual budget, with the arena
turning an estimated $1 million profit in 2008 after losing $3 million in 2006 - the last budget that included a full season of Devils hockey at the Meadowlands.
Giants Stadium, meanwhile, again ranked first worldwide in stadium gross revenues at $26.5
million with seven sellouts and 13 concert and soccer events.
"The stadium historically has ranked first or second, and the Izod Center often has been third,
fourth or fifth [in the United States]," sports authority Chairman Carl Goldberg said.
New Jersey had another winner as well - Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall placed first among
arenas with capacities of 10,000 to 15,000, with gross revenues of $26 million. Among smaller
venues, Radio City Music Hall took in a dominant $98.4 million with 165 sellouts out of 281 shows.
The sports authority board members enjoyed the Billboard results even as they were voting to
approve a modest budget reflecting the current economic environment. A hiring freeze was put
into effect for 2009.
The agency also estimates that total operating revenue will decline to $243.4 million in 2008
and $238.5 million in 2009 after reaching $246.7 million in 2007.
Most of the drop in 2008 comes from declining revenue at the Meadowlands Racetrack and
Monmouth Park. The addition of gaming at Maryland racetracks - following in the footsteps of
Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania - could make it even more difficult for New Jersey to
continue to offer competitive purses.
"Given the significant and historic downturn in the national and regional economy, our
operating results for 2008 were solid," sports authority President Dennis Robinson said. "But with the uncertainty in the marketplace, we must budget prudently for 2009." (Bergen County Record)
NETS MAY SEEK REFUGE IN NEWARK
January 15, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Newark, N.J. - Nets management has begun negotiations with Devils owner Jeffrey
Vanderbeek to play three preseason games at the Prudential Center next October, according to
several people with knowledge of the discussions who asked not to be identified out of concern for affecting the talks.
Nets CEO Brett Yormark would neither confirm nor deny the discussions, but he strongly
implied such an arrangement could be feasible for his team.
"We're exploring many different options, continue to regionalize the franchise," Yormark said
through a team spokesman. "Preseason games afford us the opportunity to do this."
Vanderbeek also didn't confirm or deny any talks with the Nets, but he said no preseason
games had been scheduled for the Prudential Center.
The discussions between Yormark and the Devils owner began at least one week ago, and
whether this represents a sea change in the Nets' thinking about the viability of eventually moving to Newark - should the Atlantic Yards project fall through - is being discussed throughout the organization.
The Nets have played at Izod Center since 1981. Yormark recently extolled the relationship his
team has with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, but reiterated that the team can
never get in the black if they play in a facility with only 28 luxury suites.
More than once, however, Yormark has put the kibosh on any discussion about moving out of
Izod Center before the $1 billion Barclays Center is completed, which he predicts will be sometime in 2011.
The general feeling is that the Nets do not want to be a second tenant in someone else's
building, while the Devils most likely would not be interested in sharing ownership of the
But Yormark also left open the door to dipping his toe in the Newark waters simply by stating
that newer is better: "We love our relationship with the NJSEA, they partner with us in every aspect of that building - from the lounges to the LEDs (illuminated ad boards) to everything we've done there," Yormark said. "But (Izod Center) still doesn't provide us with the resources we need, and the contemporary look and feel of some of the newer buildings." (Newark Star Ledger)
NEWARK MAYOR OPPOSES UPGRADES TO IZOD CENTER
April 16, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Newark, N.J. - After Newark Mayor Cory Booker vocally opposed plans by the state to upgrade
the Izod Center calling it "costly, shortsighted and injurious" to his city, reports surfaced which
said a plan is in the works to allow the Meadowlands arena and the Prudential Center in Newark
to share the marketplace. The two buildings are eight miles apart.
A joint agreement is being discussed that would turn day-to-day operation of the Prudential
Center over to the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority (NJSEA). The building is now run
by AEG. Because one entity would be responsible for booking both venues, the NJSEA would have
an incentive to keep both buildings healthy. It would also end price-cutting and bickering between
the two venues.
Booker sent a letter to Gov. Jon Corzine asking him to veto the measure and to reduce
competition with the newer Prudential Center in Newark or to close the Izod Center entirely. He
also suggested that Corzine pressure the NBA Nets to locate in Newark if their plans for a new
project in Brooklyn fail to come to fruition.
The NJSEA is planning upgrades at Izod and has already received proposals from three
Since the Newark arena opened 18 months ago, it has been locked in a bitter competition with
Izod for the same lucrative rock concerts, ice-skating shows, and family extravaganzas like the
circus. Booker and other city leaders argue the state should put its full force behind Prudential,
where the NHL Devils are based.
Corzine and Meadowlands supporters say the region can support two facilities, even if the Nets
go to Brooklyn and leave Izod, formerly Continental Airlines Arena, without a major-league sports
John Samerjan, a spokesman for the sports authority, downplayed the significance of reports
about the renovation. He said they "related to some conceptual ideas about the future of Izod
Center. That's all they are. The Izod Center is currently the fourth-highest- grossing arena in the
country and in order to maintain it, the authority properly looks at ideas for its upkeep and
upgrade. There are no current plans for a significant upgrade to Izod Center."
Samerjan declined to specify the improvements included in the architects' proposals.
Created in 1971, the NJSEA is the state agency that owns and operates the Meadowlands
complex in Bergen County, which includes Izod, Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Racetrack.
Though independent, it is controlled ultimately by the governor who appoints most of the agency's
board members and has the authority to approve or veto agency actions.
VANDERBEEK CALLS FOR IZOD TO BE RAZED
June 4, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Newark, N.J. - New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek believes his Prudential Center in
Newark should be the region's primary arena and has called up the New Jersey Sports and
Exposition Authority to close the Izod Center in the Meadowlands.
NJSEA officials said they were disappointed at the comments, especially after talks with
Vanderbeek who indicated them he wanted to work together.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo have joined
Vanderbeek in calling for the closing of the Izod Center suggesting the land would be better used
as a convention center.
Vanderbeek said that the Izod Center is a drain on taxpayers because it loses at least $10
million annually - a figure disputed by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which lists
about a $1 million annual profit. Vanderbeek said those figures are based on an overly generous
set of accounting figures, including a failure to fully factor in administrative expenses.
In an interview with the Bergen Record's editorial board, Vanderbeek reportedly said he was
only marginally interested in hosting the NBA Nets which now play at the Izod Center and are
hoping to move to a new arena in Brooklyn.
The Devil's financial experts are "about 50-50" on whether the added revenues and public
attention for the arena from Nets games would offset losing some flexibility for the Devils on
desirable weekend home dates, Vanderbeek said. He said the uncertain fate of the Nets has
allowed state officials to postpone making a decision on Izod's future.
Vanderbeek said closure of the Izod Center would boost the Prudential Center and the Devils'
collective bottom line by at least $10 million annually, with about $2 million of the new money
going to Newark. The monopoly on North Jersey arena offerings would bring the Devils from a loss
of a few million dollars annually to around break-even or better, Vanderbeek estimated, depending
on postseason success and ticket sales.
REPORTS SAY NETS UP FOR SALE
July 30, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Brooklyn, N.Y. - The New York Post is reporting that Bruce Ratner is working to sell all or a
portion of the Nets, the team he hopes to put in a new arena that is part of the Brooklyn Yards
"...several of the sources claim the team is definitely up for sale, though Ratner is determined to try to keep the team headed for Brooklyn and wants to maintain a piece of the team," the Post
There reportedly have been preliminary discussions with some investors viewed as potential
buyers, but the extent and seriousness of the talks were not clear.
The situation has been rumored and discussed for months, but Ratner's camp insists the Forest
City Ratner CEO who bought the team for $305 million in 2004 will keep his controlling interest in the team which last year suffered the NBA's biggest drop in gate receipts, 29 percent. Nets
ownership said they are seeking investors, not buyers, and have fielded all inquiries.
The Nets have reduced their office workforce by approximately 25 percent. Most
non-basketball employees have faced Friday furloughs in the summer, reducing their pay by 20
percent. Assistant coaches accepted significant pay cuts in order to keep all of them employed -
rather than see one lose his job, the four remaining assistants on coach Lawrence Frank's staff
agreed to salary reductions equal to the cost of one salary.
NETS' FINANCIAL DETAILS OUTLINED IN SEC FILING
October 1, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Washington, D.C. - The New Jersey Nets report assets of $387.3 million in a new filing with the
Securities and Exchange Commission, but $183.9 million (47 percent) of that is in land and costs
associated with building a new arena and $165.5 million (43 percent) is in intangible assets such as
the franchise ($161.1 million) and player contracts ($4 million). Total liabilities, not counting
members' deficit, are $472.4 million. Long term liabilities total $350.7 million.
Member units are four classifications of units with different priorities in distribution and capital
The figures were part of a filing by Forest City Enterprises which is the parent firm of the Nets.
The filing is for the period ending June 30, 2009, and before the announcement that Russian
billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov agreed to purchased 80 percent of the NBA Nets and 45 percent of a
proposed arena for $200 million.
The report shows $78.8 million in operating income for the 2009 fiscal year compared
unaudited results of $94 million and $97 million for 2008 and 2007 respectively. The team reported
a net loss for 2009 of $77.2 million compared with unaudited numbers of $76.4 and $77 million for
2008 and 2009.
The team made up for the losses in revenue with reductions in player and staff salaries that
dropped from $71 million in 2008 to $66.1 million in 2009. Marketing costs were reduced and
depreciation was accelerated.
The cash flow statements also showed that the team saw accrued interest on member loans
grow from $135,845 in 2007 to nearly $1.7 million in 2009. Member loans total $37.1 million and
carry interest rates of 5.5 percent to 20 percent.
The report also details the team's payments to the NBA saying, “Basketball is required under
NBA rules and regulations, among other things, to contribute to the NBA certain amounts, as
defined, to be used by the NBA for operating expenses. For the years ended June 30, 2009, 2008
and 2007, (the Nets) contributed a fixed payment of approximately $28,000, $32,000 and $70,000,
respectively, allocable from suite revenue and contributed approximately $1,707,000,$2,389,000
and $5,353,000, respectively, from regular season and playoff ticket sales based on each game's
ticket sales, as defined, according to a formula specified by the NBA.
Details about the team's naming rights agreement with Barclays Services Corp. suggest the
sponsor is benefitting from the delays in opening the venue. The report says the naming rights deal
"expires on June 30 following the twentieth anniversary of the opening date of the arena..."
Among other details found in the filing are that the team's lease payments for the Izod Center
were $51,840 per game in 2009 and that it had collected $375,600 in luxury suite deposits for the
DEAL SAID TO BE CLOSE FOR NETS' TEMPORARY MOVE TO NEWARK
October 29, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Newark, N.J. - Reports say a deal is close for the New Jersey Nets to move out of the Izod Center in
the Meadowlands and into the Prudential Center in Newark until its new Brooklyn arena is completed.
Carl Goldberg, chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, and Jerry Zaro -
Governor Jon Corzine's economic czar - confirmed that they have been meeting for four months, at
Corzine's insistence, with Devils chief owner Jeff Vanderbeek to complete such a deal.
Those talks also have included Nets chief executive Brett Yormark in recent weeks.
Goldberg said the key was ensuring that both facilities could be economically viable -
something that was in question at both sites, in part because competition for events allowed
promoters to play one arena off against the other.
The Nets' franchise is in a critical moment in its history. The team needs to win a ruling in the
New York State Court of Appeals next month and sell at least $600 million in bonds for Barclays
Center construction, while also breaking ground in Brooklyn before year's end - when a crucial
Internal Revenue Service tax loophole will expire. Failing any of the three, the Nets' tentative
transfer of ownership to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov would be off, and the franchise
could be up for sale to the highest bidder nationwide.
If the Nets fail to move to Brooklyn, the franchise may be more attractive to local bidders if a
deal to move to Newark already is in place.
The sports authority is entitled to a penalty payment of $7.5 million from the Nets if the club
moves to Newark, as a result of lease renegotiations in 2006. The fee is expected to be waived as
part of the deal - a move that could be palatable to board members as part of a deal to ensure the
long-term fate of Izod.
Meanwhile, New York state development officials are drafting a new deal with Net's owner
Bruce Ratner that will give the Atlantic Yards developer a loophole out of the project's main selling
point: thousands of units of affordable housing. The Atlantic Yards project will host the arena along
with other types of development.
New language quietly inserted into a Sept. 17 lease proposal between the Empire State
Development Corporation and the Downtown-based developer now make the construction of the
long-promised 2,250 units of below-market-rate housing "subject to governmental authorities
making available … affordable housing subsidies."
None of the prior agreements - including two approved general project plans - made the
affordable housing conditional on any state or local support. Ratner was required to build the units
whether subsidies were available or not.
Prior agreements between the state and Ratner did refer to taxpayer subsidies - the latest
project plan approved in June, for example, said that "the affordable units are expected to be built
as part of the mayor's 'New Housing Marketplace Plan' and … financed through tax-exempt bonds
provided under existing and proposed city and state housing programs."
DEAL COULD RESOLVE RIVALRY BETWEEN NEW JERSEY ARENAS
December 10, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Newark, N.J. - A new deal could position the Prudential Center in Newark as a sports venue
and the Izod Center in the Meadowlands as an entertainment venue under a new plan being worked out between the owners of the two arenas.
The deal reportedly would see the Nets move from the Izod Center to the Prudential Center while the Prudential Center would agree not to bid for entertainment shows sought by the Izod Center. Both facilities, which are only a few miles apart, have been bidding against each for the shows, making it difficult for either to make money.
The Prudential Center is owned by the NHL New Jersey Devils while the Izod Center is owned by the New Jersey Sport and Exposition Authority. To make the deal work, the owners would create a new venture, Jersey Presents, which would schedule events and divide revenues.
The venues would also levy a ticket surcharge of $1 for sports events and $3 for other events. The money would be divided between the venues under a formula still being devised.
The Nets, which have been losing tens of millions of dollars a year, would avoid paying a $7.5 million penalty to the Izod Center for breaking their lease to move to Newark. They would also pay a significantly lower per-game rental fee, and earn a share of suite revenue they generate at the Prudential Center. The Devils and the Nets would also sell ticket packages together.
New Jersey officials hope the move to Newark's newer arena could help keep the Nets from moving to Brooklyn in 2012. A performance clause in the proposed deal would require that the team spend minimum amounts on player salaries and marketing as long as they remain at the Prudential Center.
The Nets say they are focused now on arranging financing for their Brooklyn arena. That must be in place by the end of the month or they will lose state money needed for construction. Team officials say they will consider a move to Newark after that deal is done.
The agreement is also expected to please businesses around the Izod Center which have been working hard to make sure the venue doesn't close. As a rule, those who attend entertainment shows at the Izod Center tend to utilize area restaurants and other businesses more than sports fans.
One other constituency may be needed to pull the plan off: the New Jersey legislature.
If the new fee is added by the venues, the money becomes taxable. However, if it is ordered by the legislature, it becomes tax-free. Governor-elect Christopher Christie is opposed to the surcharge, so to avoid his veto, the legislature must act before he takes office Jan. 19.
Legislators have already started arguing about the fee with some calling it a bailout for the Prudential Center and others saying it's a state subsidy for Newark.
NETS WANT TO PLAY IN NEWARK FOR TWO YEARS
February 4, 2010
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
East Rutherford, N.J. - The NBA Nets and NHL Devils are working on a plan to present to Gov.
Chris Christie for the basketball team to move from the Izod Center in the Meadowlands to the Prudential Center in Newark for two years until the Nets can begin play at their new Brooklyn arena.
Christie has said he won't allow a move without charging the Nets a $7.5 million penalty for breaking its Izod lease and that a deal can't happen without his approval.
The Nets played two preseason games on Oct. 13 and 21 at "The Rock," and both were successful, as roughly 28,000 tickets were sold with assistance from Mayor Cory Booker's office.
The team was delighted, especially upon learning that 13 percent of its patrons used rail service to attend the games. In remarks about the Prudential Center weeks later, Nets CEO Brett Yormark described the facility as "terrific," with "great new amenities. The fans seem to really enjoy it." And he was encouraged that there would be a "big concentration of fans from Essex, Middlesex and Union counties, which we don't typically draw a lot from."
The Nets plan to move to Brooklyn in 2012. They must notify the NBA by March 1 if they intend to play in a different venue next year.
NETS' MOVE MADE OFFICIAL
March 11, 2010
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Newark, N.J. - The New Jersey Nets have made it official and say they will be moving to the
Prudential Center in Newark for two years while their new arena is under construction in Brooklyn. The team now plays at the Izod Center.
The Prudential Center, also known as the Rock, has been angling to take the Nets from the Izod Center for years, but the team would have faced a $7 million penalty for breaking their lease with Sports and Exposition Authority. Former Gov. Jon Corzine was close to waiving the fee when Gov. Chris Christie was elected and the deal was shelved. By late February, Christie announced a deal had been brokered to release the Nets from Izod for $4 million, some of which could be paid in advertising, suite revenues, and other credits.
IZOD BENEFITS FROM MSG RENOVATION
July 21, 2011
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East Rutherford, N.J. - While the landmark Madison Square Garden is closed for renovations
this summer, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Rihanna and a host of other musical acts are making Jersey home, according to the Newark Star Ledger.
The Prudential Center in Newark and the Izod Center in East Rutherford are seeing an increase in concerts as artists seek replacement dates while the New York arena is shuttered. The Prudential Center also landed the New York Liberty, the women's basketball team that is playing its home games in Newark.
The combination is making for a bustling summer in Newark, Rich Krezwick, president of Devils Arena Entertainment, the company that manages the Prudential Center, told the newspaper.
"It's definitely busier than in recent years and we can certainly attribute a portion of that to Madison Square Garden being closed," Krezwick said.
In addition to 18 home games of the WNBA's Liberty, The Rock is hosting Swift for four nights this month - the longest stand since Bon Jovi opened the Newark arena in 2007. The Newark venue also presented the NBA draft last month, another event that had to move from the theater at the Garden, where it was held for nearly the past decade.
The Garden will close this summer and the next two for a major renovation that is estimated to cost more than $775 million. The three phases of the project will allow the arena's sports franchises – the New York Rangers hockey team and the NBA's Knicks – to maintain their home schedules while the arena gets an overhaul. The seating will be replaced, suites will be added and current ones improved, the concourses will be widened and a new scoreboard installed.
Officials at the Izod Center in East Rutherford said the schedule includes a few more shows in June and July as well as nine rehearsal dates for Paul McCartney, who is prepping for his upcoming stadium tour.
"We, as well as other buildings in the area, may have benefited to the tune of a few shows each," James Minish, executive vice president of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, the state agency that operates the Izod Center, told the Star Ledger.
Both the Izod's Minish and Prudential's Krezwick also note that the Garden's closure is only one factor. More shows are touring this year than last year, and Prudential's train link to Manhattan has helped it get some of the Garden's leftovers.