Turf War In Jersey

New Jersey has a real estate problem – a brand new shiny arena that wants to bring in all of the flagship tours and, eight miles away, a venerable, elder building that isn’t going gentle into that good night.

“I believe we need to start looking at this as a regional issue,” Newark Mayor Cory Booker told the city’s Star-Ledger. “Ultimately having a very old arena and a new arena cannibalizing each other is just not a productive thing for our state.”

Booker was speaking of the AEG-run Prudential Center, which opened with a successful run of Bon Jovi concerts in late 2007, and, in East Rutherford, the Izod Center,
known throughout most of its life as Meadowlands Arena.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus recently performed four days at the Prudential Center then went straight to Izod Center. The Star-Ledger characterized the competition as a “steel cage death match.”

There are winners in this fight – promoters, who can leverage the venues against each other, and artists, who can ask for the higher dollar. Jeffrey Vanderbeek, president and chairman of Devils Arena Entertainment and owner of the New Jersey Devils, said as much to the paper.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Nets, who play at Izod, have two preseason games booked at Prudential next fall. The Nets are expected to move to a Frank Gehry-designed arena in Brooklyn but that project is stalling because of financing problems and the Star-Ledger says there’s speculation the Nets will go to Prudential instead.

Dennis Robinson, executive director of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority that runs the Izod Center, told the paper there are no plans to close the arena even if the Nets leave.

“Our board would have to make that decision, and the board has no intention of closing the Izod Center,” he said, adding that he contends there is room for both arenas and that, together, they’re bringing in far more events than one arena ever did.