N.J. Arena Debate

As Newark, N.J., Mayor-elect Cory Booker was sworn into office July 1st, a debate resurfaced over whether an 18,000-seat arena being built in the city could compete with the nearby Continental Airlines Arena.

Bergen County officials have criticized Booker for suggesting that the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford should close if hockey’s New Jersey Devils leave for the new, approximately $350 million facility in Newark, according to the Herald News.

East Rutherford Councilman Joel Brizzi reportedly said closing the 25-year-old arena would hurt the local economy. Brizzi was responding to comments Booker made in the local media that the region couldn’t sustain two arenas, the paper said.

The Devils have pledged to move the team to Newark, and in January gave the city a $100 million letter of credit to help build the arena, which broke ground in October.

At press time, Gov. Jon Corzine, who ultimately has the authority to keep the Continental Airlines Arena open, did not give any hint as to what he plans to do, according to the Herald News. A spokesman said on June 30th that Corzine was in the process of evaluating the entire Meadowlands Sports Complex, which includes the arena.

Bergen County officials, like Councilman Brizzi, have reportedly argued that the arena would continue to make money from concerts and family shows.