A Devil Started It

The fight between New Jersey’s Izod Center and Prudential Center that never really happened is back on.

The Izod Center, formerly the Continental Airlines Arena, in East Rutherford has been the dominant arena in New Jersey for 28 years. Down the proverbial street, the AEG-run Prudential Center is the new kid on the block that houses the New Jersey Devils and brought in flashy acts like Bon Jovi.

Executives at the two buildings have downplayed reports that they are having a turf war. That was before Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek talked at a recent editorial board meeting of The Bergen Record newspaper. According to Vanderbeek, who is chairman of Devils Arena Entertainment as well as the team owner, the Izod Center has got to go.

“The building needs to be torn down, and the state could sell the property as a real estate deal,” Vanderbeek said, according to the Herald News. “It’s valuable land – it’s even worth money as a parking lot.”

The comments drew a strong rebuke from Dennis Robinson, president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which runs the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

“We are disappointed that Mr. Vanderbeek has chosen to take this aggressive tack in his continuing efforts to close the Izod Center,” Robinson told the paper. “Based on our last meeting with the Devils organization, it was our understanding that we were going to work together in a cooperative manner to ensure that both facilities are as successful as they can be. Unfortunately, Mr. Vanderbeek has chosen to breach our agreement to cooperate. We are puzzled by his motivation.”

Vanderbeek said the Izod Center is a drain on taxpayers, losing $10 million annually despite the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority’s claim that the building turns a $1 million profit every year.

“We are not going to dignify Mr. Vanderbeek’s comments relative to our financials, other than to say that our financial reports have always been available to the public and are audited by independent outside auditors on an annual basis,” Robinson said in a statement.

The Izod Center houses the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, which are still hoping to move to a new home in Brooklyn. That project has yet to break ground.