Prudential Center is a multi-purpose indoor arena in the central business district of Newark, New Jersey, United States. It was designed by HOK Sport (now Populous), with the exterior designed by Morris Adjmi Architects. Opened in 2007, it is the home of the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League (NHL) and the men's basketball program of Seton Hall University, known as the Seton Hall Pirates. The arena officially seats 16,514 patrons for hockey games and up to 18,711 for basketball. Fans and sports writers have affectionately nicknamed the arena "The Rock" in reference to the Rock of Gibraltar, the corporate logo of Prudential Financial, a financial institution that owns the naming rights to the arena and is headquartered within walking distance of it. In December 2013, the arena ranked third nationally and ninth internationally for self-reported annual revenue.
The Mulberry Street side of the arena, flanked by the entrance cylinders and featuring a large LED screen.
|Address||25 Lafayette Street AKA 165 Mulberry St.|
|Location||Newark, New Jersey|
|Public transit||Newark Penn Station
|Parking||Approximately 9,066 parking spaces in the vicinity|
|Owner||Newark Housing Authority|
|Operator||Devils Arena Entertainment|
Indoor soccer: 17,502
|Broke ground||October 3, 2005|
|Opened||October 25, 2007|
|Construction cost||US$375 million|
|Architect||HOK Sport (now Populous)|
Morris Adjmi Architects (Exterior)
El Taller Colaborativo
|Project manager||ICON Venue Group|
|Structural engineer||Thornton Tomasetti|
|Services engineer||R.G. Vanderweil Engineers, Inc.|
|General contractor||Gilbane Construction|
|New Jersey Devils (NHL) (2007–present)|
Seton Hall Pirates (NCAA) (2007–present)
New Jersey Rockets (USPHL) (2007–present)
New York Titans (NLL) (2007–2009)
New Jersey Ironmen (XSL) (2007–2009)
NJIT Highlanders (NCAA) (2008–present)
New Jersey Nets (NBA) (2010–2012)
New York Liberty (WNBA) (2011–2013)
Metropolitan Riveters (NWHL) (2016–2019)
The arena was built amidst financial concerns and years of speculation that the Devils would relocate, despite the fact that the team was a perennial playoff contender and had been at or near the top of the NHL's standings for over a decade. The arena is located two blocks from Newark Penn Station in downtown Newark, just west of Newark's Ironbound district, which makes it easily accessible via New Jersey Transit, PATH, Newark Light Rail, and Amtrak. At the time of its opening, Prudential Center was the first major league sports venue to be built in the New York metropolitan area since the Brendan Byrne Arena, the Devils' former home, opened in 1981. According to the Devils organization, the Prudential Center has played a major role in the revitalization of downtown Newark.
For years, the New Jersey Devils had been rumored to be at least considering relocation. Even when the team won the Stanley Cup in 1995, it was amidst rumors that the franchise would move to Nashville. Despite playing championship-caliber hockey in the 2002–03 season culminating in a Stanley Cup that year, the Devils only averaged 14,858 fans per game at their home arena, Continental Airlines Arena at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford.
A project to build a new 18,000 seat arena in Newark first received funding from Newark's city council in 2002, when the team was owned by Puck Holdings, a subsidiary of YankeeNets. In 2004, former Lehman Brothers executive Jeffrey Vanderbeek bought the team from Puck Holdings and became a strong proponent of the proposed arena. Vanderbeek said, "The Devils need a new arena that can provide a game-day experience that is certainly equal to the best team in the National Hockey League and certainly equal to the product that is put on the ice." He also stated that he believed the arena "would take downtown Newark to a whole new level." After legal battles over both eminent domain and the city's financial participation in the arena project, the final deal was approved by council and went through in October 2004.
Construction and funding
A seven-acre site for the arena in downtown Newark was selected, bordered by Edison Place on the north, Lafayette Street on the south, Mulberry Street on the east, and Broad Street on the west. The site was the location of the never-completed Renaissance Mall and, previously, the tracks and train shed of the Central Railroad of New Jersey's Broad/Lafayette Street terminal whose building still stands nearby. The arena was designed by HOK Sport, with the exterior designed by Morris Adjmi Architects. Initial designs were released in early 2005 and referred to the arena as "Newark Arena". Groundbreaking began on October 3, 2005, and a workforce of 2,725 union workers was employed to construct the arena. Financial issues, though, threatened to halt the deal. On January 24, 2006, the Devils averted having the project canceled by submitting a guarantee in writing that the team would contribute $100 million to the arena, one day before their deadline.
Though construction was well underway, in late summer 2006, Cory Booker, who had recently taken office as Mayor of Newark, promised to reevaluate the deal and considered backing out. In October, Booker conceded there would be "a first-class arena built in the city of Newark, whether we like it or not", and soon afterwards, the Devils struck a deal including both property and monetary givebacks that appeased city officials.
The city of Newark pledged to contribute $210 million to the construction of the arena, using settlement money from its lease dispute over underpaid rent for use of Newark Liberty International Airport with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Devils paid for the remainder of the cost. Thus, no new direct taxpayer funding was required for the construction of the arena. Some taxpayer dollars, however, were spent on infrastructure improvements. These improvements were necessary for both the new arena and proposed private development surrounding that arena.
Prudential Financial purchased the naming rights to the stadium in January 2007 for $105.3 million over 20 years, reducing the city's cost for the project. The arena had been referred to as "Newark Arena" before the deal. In addition to its formal name, Prudential Center was immediately nicknamed "The Rock" after Prudential's corporate logo.
Construction on the arena was completed in October 2007. The estimated final cost of the arena's construction is $380 million. In total, more than 18,000 tons of steel were used to build the bowl area and high roof, while 62,000 linear feet of ductwork were installed throughout the arena. The Devils had to play their first nine games of the 2007–08 NHL season on the road as construction on their home arena was finished.
For the soft opening on October 20, the Newark Boys Chorus performed at Prudential Center, which became the first use of the arena. It officially opened on October 25, 2007, with a series of 10 concerts by the New Jersey native rock group Bon Jovi, featuring a star-studded lineup of opening acts including Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Daughtry, The All-American Rejects and fellow New Jersey native group My Chemical Romance.
The Devils played their first home game at Prudential Center on October 27, 2007, against the Ottawa Senators, who, coincidentally, were the Devils' last opponent at Continental Airlines Arena. Chris Neil scored the arena's first goal, while Brian Gionta scored the Devils' first goal in the arena. Martin Gerber earned the first win as the Senators defeated the Devils 4–1.
On January 8, 2010, a lighting problem occurred in the arena during a game between the Devils and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay was leading 3–0 with 9:12 left in the second period when half of the arena's sports lights went out due to a power surge on the grid feeding electricity to the arena, followed by a computerized lighting system failing to reboot. PSEG and Prudential Center electricians worked on the situation for 1 hour and 52 minutes but could not reboot the system. The game was suspended due to the lighting problem; it was resumed two nights later, with about 3,000 of the original crowd of 15,129 in attendance. Tampa Bay won, 4–2, with Lightning center Steven Stamkos scoring two goals in the contest: one on Friday and one on Sunday.
Prudential Center primarily serves as the home arena for the New Jersey Devils hockey franchise, who previously played at the Meadowlands Arena from 1982 to 2007, as well as the home court of the NCAA's Seton Hall Pirates men's basketball program, who also played in the Meadowlands from 1985 to 2007. The arena also hosts select home games for the Seton Hall Pirates women's basketball team, and the NJIT Highlanders men's basketball team. The arena was a former home of the New York Titans of the National Lacrosse League until 2009, when the team moved to Orlando.
The Devils' first playoff game win at the arena came on April 15, 2009, when they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 in game one of the first round.
The Devils' first playoff series win at the arena was on May 25, 2012, where they defeated their rivals, the New York Rangers 3-2 in overtime on a goal by Adam Henrique to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Games 1, 2, and 5 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals were played at the arena.
In November 2007 and 2008, the Center hosted the semifinals and finals of college basketball's Legends Classic.
The arena hosted the East Regional semifinals and final of the 2011 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.
The Prudential Center was originally intended to also be the home of the New Jersey Nets, but the team was sold to real estate developer Bruce Ratner, who intended to build an arena in Brooklyn for the team, and the Nets remained in the Meadowlands while awaiting construction of what became the Barclays Center. However, the construction of the Barclays Center was plagued by lawsuits and economic issues during the late 2000s recession. In the fall of 2009, the Nets played two preseason games at the Prudential Center, while considering a possible move there. After the success of the preseason games at the Prudential Center, the Nets finalized a deal to move to the Prudential Center.
On April 23, 2012, the Nets played their final game at the Prudential Center, a 105–87 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Lou Williams made the final basket on the court. The Nets subsequently relocated to the Barclays Center to become the Brooklyn Nets at the beginning of the 2012-13 NBA season.
The New Jersey Ironmen of the indoor Xtreme Soccer League (XSL) played their inaugural home game at Prudential Center on December 1, 2007. A crowd of 13,429 was on hand to see soccer legend Pelé, who was the honorary captain, take the ceremonial first kick. The Ironmen won this game 8–6 over the Detroit Ignition. The Ironmen folded along with the XSL in 2009.
Boxing and MMA
Boxing promoter Main Events has hosted a number of fight cards, most notably headlined by former world champions Zab Judah and Tomasz Adamek. Due to the large Polish population in the North Jersey area, Adamek has drawn upwards of 10,000 fans for his last few bouts, including almost 11,000 against Michael Grant on August 21, 2010.
The UFC held UFC 78 on November 17, 2007, one of the first events to take place at the new arena. It marked the first UFC event in New Jersey in two years. It also played host to UFC 111, which took place on March 27, 2010. On March 19, 2011, it hosted UFC 128, UFC 159 on April 27, 2013, and UFC 169 on February 1, 2014.
WWE has held multiple events at Prudential Center including Hell in a Cell in 2009, Extreme Rules in 2016, and Backlash on May 6, 2018. It is also a regular stop for Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, for years a staple at the Meadowlands Arena, performed their first show at the Prudential Center on May 2, 2012, as part of their Wrecking Ball World Tour. They returned to the arena on January 31, 2016, for a date on the opening leg of The River Tour 2016.
The Rolling Stones broadcast their last show of their 50th-anniversary tour live on pay-per-view from the arena on December 15, 2012.
The Misfits, a punk rock band from Lodi, announced that they would reunite for one-time performance and play in the venue on May 19, 2018. Bon Jovi performed for ten nights at the October 25, 2007 opening of the Prudential Center. Many "big name" rock acts have performed and continue to perform at the Prudential Center.
Democratic Governor Jon Corzine held a rally on November 1, 2009, to gather support for the governor's election on Tuesday, November 3, 2009. Speakers included Newark Mayor Cory Booker and President Barack Obama, who addressed the near-capacity crowd.
Nik Wallenda walked and then bicycled across a suspended wire, 12 stories off of the ground, from the roof of the Prudential Center during a live broadcast of Today on October 15, 2008. The stunt was made in an attempt to break the world record for longest and highest bike ride on a highwire, which is documented by the Guinness Book of Records.
In June 2019, the Center held the Season 7 World Championship of the Rocket League Championship Series, featuring 12 teams from North America, Europe, Oceania and for the first time in RLCS history, South America.
In August 2019, the Center hosted the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards for the first time in its history.
The red and gray exterior is inspired by Newark's bricklaying and railroad heritage. Fans approaching the arena from the front are presented with a view of the arena's externally mounted 4,800 square foot (446 m²) LED display, one of the largest in the world. The Daktronics display is split up into thin panels with gaps in between, in order to prevent the fans' view from inside from being obstructed. Along the arena's east side Mulberry Street entrance are two large "entrance cylinders" named the Ford Tower and Investor's Bank Tower, the arena's most prominent exterior feature. These towers take the fans up to the Grand Concourse, by escalator and staircase.
The interior's lower level Grand Concourse provides views of downtown Newark on the Edison Place and Mulberry Street sides through large windows. Prudential Center features separate concourses for the lower and upper levels, whereas the Continental Airlines Arena had one concourse for both levels of the arena. Throughout the Grand Concourse, jerseys of most high school hockey teams in New Jersey hang from the walls. The arena also features many murals of players and memorable moments from Devils history. One 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) mural encompasses a long stretch of the Grand Concourse wall and features Devils Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, and Ken Daneyko, along with tributes to other New Jersey sports and Newark landmarks, with depictions that include Seton Hall men's basketball legends Richie Regan and Terry Dehere, soccer player Tony Meola, a boxer, and tennis legend Althea Gibson.
Amenities and facilities
As one of the newer facilities to be used in the NHL, the Prudential Center features a large array of amenities. The rink area features LED ribbons circumnavigating the arena and a 9,585-square-foot scoreboard by Trans-Lux installed in 2017, weighing over 44 tons and the largest in-arena, center-hung scoreboard in the world, replacing a smaller, lower-resolution eight-sided unit from Daktronics. The 76 luxury suites available are the largest in North America. Personal dining, WiFi, and high-definition televisions are some of the many conveniences available in the luxury suites. There are 750 flat-screen televisions in total across the arena. On each side of the lower bowl the three middle sections consist of a combined 2,330 Club seats. These black-colored seats emblazoned with the Devils' logo are wider with more legroom. Club seat and season ticket holders have access to a 350-seat restaurant on the suite level in one of the end zones with views of the rink and practice rink. Additionally, the Goal Bar, located on Suite Level One offers Club and Goal Bar seat holders terrace-style seating in a bar environment. Club Seat holders also have access to lounges on the main concourse offering buffet-style food options. One of these lounges contains the television camera staging area and the commentating post at which Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko call games for MSG Plus telecasts, whereas home radio broadcasts and all road team broadcasts originate from the press box above the 200 level.
On the north, Edison Place side of the arena, at street level, are the ticket office and the Devils' 2,600 square foot (242 m²) Team Store, along with Championship Plaza, a public meeting place that celebrates the Devils' past and present successes on the ice. Attached to the Prudential Center are the Devils' corporate offices and practice rink, which contains its own locker rooms. The Prudential Center is one of only four NHL arenas with a practice rink (the others are Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets, KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York, home of the Buffalo Sabres, and Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, home of the Detroit Red Wings) and the only one with dual locker rooms and practice facilities.
The Devils's practice rink, the RWJ Barnabas Health Hockey House (formerly AmeriHealth Pavilion), is attached to the arena, located on the south side of the building. On select days, it is open to fans after the game for public ice skating. The practice rink also served as the home of the Metropolitan Riveters of the National Women's Hockey League from 2016 to 2019. The Saint Peter's Prep Mauraders hockey teams as well as other local youth teams also use the rink. It has been the home The arena also hosts the NJSIAA Public A, Public B, and Private State Finals for high school ice hockey.
Championship Plaza and environs
Championship Plaza, an outdoor space designed to celebrate the Devils' 30-year history, is located opposite the PNC Bank Tower on Mulberry Street between Edison Place and Market Street. "We are working hard to enhance our fans' experience at Prudential Center, and continue our effort to be a cornerstone in the revitalization of Newark", Vanderbeek said in a released statement. "Championship Plaza is going to be a great place to gather with friends, meet new fans and celebrate Jersey's team." The most prominent piece of the project is the 22-foot (6.7 m) tall, 7,000-pound stainless steel hockey player statue. The Prudential rock, inspired by the Rock of Gibraltar, was also installed in the plaza, and placed along Mulberry Street. Devil fans were able purchase a limited amount of bricks that would be placed in and around the plaza with personalized messages inscribed. The plaza was opened to the public on October 3, 2009. On the opposite end of the arena, a statue of former New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur was dedicated outside of the Lafayette Street entrance tower and practice rink on October 22, 2016.
Much like the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Prudential Center was expected to boost Newark's urban renaissance. Small-scale projects in the immediate vicinity of the arena around Four Corners have led to the construction of new hotels, loft conversions, and a restaurant row. The development of Mulberry Commons (known as Triangle Park during its conception), a city square originally proposed as the centerpiece of a commercial and residential complex near the arena, stagnated for a decade before construction began in October 2017. The park finally opened after 15 years of delay on May 30, 2019.
Accessibility and transportation
Located only two blocks from Newark Penn Station, the Prudential Center, like its other two major counterparts in the New York metropolitan area, Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center, is one of the most easily accessible arenas in the country. Public transportation access is provided via NJ Transit trains and buses, PATH trains, Newark Light Rail, and Amtrak. Major highways in the arena's vicinity include I-95 on the New Jersey Turnpike, I-78, I-280, US 1/9, NJ 21, US 22, and the Garden State Parkway.
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