NJ Venues Hug It Out

Recent media reports of a venue turf war in New Jersey may have noted a strained relationship between two buildings – the AEG-run Prudential Center in Newark and the Izod Center in East Rutherford – but a venue spokesman has painted a sunnier picture of the situation at hand.

The kerfuffle apparently began after Dennis Robinson, head of the New Jersey Sports Exposition Authority that operates the Izod Center, discussed planned upgrades at the aging facility, which currently houses the NBA’s New Jersey Nets.

The team was expected to move into a Frank Gehry-designed arena in Brooklyn, N.Y., but the project has stalled because of financing problems.

Robinson told the Star-Ledger the Nets’ owners “know we are very interested in having the Nets remain at Izod Center long-term should the Brooklyn project not materialize.”

But his comment apparently riled up Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who wrote a letter to Gov. Jon Corzine in response.

In the letter, obtained by the paper, Booker urged Corzine to reconsider voting to allow renovations at the Izod in favor of the Rock, which opened in 2007.

“It is fiscally irresponsible, particularly in these difficult economic times, for the state of New Jersey to expend a single additional public dollar or incur additional debt to support an outdated facility to retain the Nets when a state-of-the-art, world class center already exists in Newark,” Booker wrote. “I urge you to veto the NJSEA minutes and not let this project move ahead.”

When questioned by the paper, Corzine declined to state whether he’d vote for the upgrades, and dismissed the notion of the turf war.

“We need cooperation, not cannibalization,” Corzine said. “I think the issue is slightly overblown. Frankly, I think it’s much ado about nothing.”

Officials at the Izod Center apparently agreed.

Izod spokesman John Samerjan told Pollstar the venues have had talks regarding cooperation moving forward, and that the building is having a great year with 200 events on the books.

The Star-Ledger noted that rumors have been circling that the NJSEA is in talks to take over management of the Rock, which could put both venues under the same umbrella, and effectively end any “fighting” over future events.

A spokesman for AEG was unavailable at press time.