Meadowlands Arena as seen from a nearby parking garage, following its re-branding as Izod Center. The banner displaying the arena's name was taken down and replaced with a permanent sign, which was subsequently removed from the building when it closed.
|Former names||Brendan Byrne Arena (1981–1996)
Continental Airlines Arena (1996–2007)
Izod Center (2007–2016)
|Address||50 New Jersey Route 120|
|Location||East Rutherford, New Jersey|
|Public transit||Meadowlands (Select Events)|
|Owner||New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority|
|Operator||New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority|
|Capacity||20,049 (NBA Basketball)
20,029 (NCAA Basketball)
7,500 (Theater concerts)
|Broke ground||February 2, 1979|
|Opened||July 2, 1981|
|Closed||April 3, 2015|
|Construction cost||US$85 million
($224 million in 2014 dollars)
Dilullo, Clauss, Ostroki & Partners
|Project manager||George A. Fuller Company|
|General contractor||Terminal Construction Corporation|
|New Jersey Nets (NBA) (1981–2010)
New Jersey Rockets (MISL) (1981–1982)
New York Cosmos (NASL Indoor/MISL) (1981–1985)
New Jersey Devils (NHL) (1982–2007)
Seton Hall Pirates (NCAA) (1982–2007)
New Jersey Saints (EPBLL) (1987–1988)
New Jersey Rockin' Rollers (RHI) (1994)
New Jersey Red Dogs/Gladiators (AFL) (1997–2002)
New Jersey Storm (NLL) (2001–2003)
Fordham Rams (NCAA) (2011)
Meadowlands Arena (formerly Brendan Byrne Arena, Continental Airlines Arena and IZOD Center) is an indoor venue located in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States. The arena is located on New Jersey Route 120 and is across the highway from MetLife Stadium and the Meadowlands Racetrack. A covered footbridge connects one of MetLife Stadium's parking lots with the Meadowlands Arena's lot.
The arena was originally built to accommodate a move of the New York Nets basketball team to New Jersey and opened in 1981. In 1982, the Colorado Rockies hockey team joined the Nets in the new building and became known as the New Jersey Devils. The Nets and Devils were joined by the Seton Hall Pirates men's college basketball team in 1982.
In 2007, the Prudential Center opened in nearby Newark and the New Jersey Devils, for whom the arena was built, moved out. Seton Hall, whose campus in South Orange is closer to Newark than East Rutherford, followed and moved their basketball games there. The Nets remained for three more seasons before moving to Newark, where they played two seasons before departing New Jersey for Brooklyn and the Barclays Center. The men's basketball team from Fordham University played most of their 2010–11 home schedule at the arena.
Following the departure of all three of its major tenants, the arena continued to host occasional non-sporting events, such as touring shows and concerts, and other local events. The state-owned facility reported losses for 2013, and was projected to have $8.5 million in losses for 2015. On January 15, 2015, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority voted to shut down Izod Center, and have Prudential Center acquire hosting rights to events scheduled for the arena over the next two years in a $2 million deal.
Construction on a new arena across Route 20 (now 120) from Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Racetrack began in 1977, with the arena's initial purpose being to serve as the primary home for the Nets who had moved from Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York to New Jersey. While the venue was being built, the Nets played their home games in Piscataway, New Jersey at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
The arena was designed by Grad Partnership and Dilullo, Clauss, Ostroki & Partners and was constructed at a cost of $85 million. The structural engineers for this project was Leslie E. Robertson Associates. Originally named after the sitting governor of New Jersey, the arena opened July 2, 1981 with the first of six concerts by New Jersey rock musician Bruce Springsteen. This was followed by an ice show later that month. While the official name of the arena was "Brendan Byrne Arena", on television it was usually referred to as "The Meadowlands."
The Nets moved into their new home on October 30, 1981, and lost to the New York Knicks in their inaugural home game by a score of 103–99. Byrne Arena also hosted the NBA All-Star Game later that season on January 31, 1982.
Another reason for the building of the arena in the Meadowlands was to potentially lure a National Hockey League team to New Jersey. Governor Byrne was a member of an ownership group that was looking to do so, and in 1978 businessman Arthur Imperatore purchased the Colorado Rockies of the NHL and announced that he would be moving the team out of McNichols Sports Arena in Denver and relocating them to New Jersey. The NHL initially rejected the move as the arena was yet to be completed and, unlike the situation when the Nets moved, there was no arena in New Jersey at that time that would fit NHL standards as even a temporary home. Imperatore sold the team to Houston Astros owner Dr. John McMullen in 1982. When the arena was completed McMullen, who was a native New Jerseyan like Imperatore, announced that he had big plans for the team, including the long-planned move, and in the off-season the Rockies moved operations to New Jersey, where they became known as the Devils. The first NHL game played at Byrne Arena pitted the Devils against the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 5, 1982, and the game ended in a 3–3 tie. The next season, the NHL All-Star Game was hosted by the Devils at the arena.
On January 4, 1996, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority announced a naming rights deal with Continental Airlines (which later merged with United Airlines) under which the airline, with a hub at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport, would pay the NJSEA $29 million over 12 years. As Continental Airlines Arena, it hosted the 1996 Final Four—the last Final Four to date that has been held in an arena specifically built for basketball.
On May 5, 2007, the Devils played their last game at the arena, losing 3–2 to the Ottawa Senators, eliminating them from the Eastern Conference semifinals 4–1. Scott Gomez scored the final goal in the building. The Devils subsequently relocated to the newly constructed Prudential Center in nearby Newark, New Jersey at the beginning of the 2007–08 NHL season.
Following the Devils' final season at the arena in 2007, Continental Airlines opted out of the naming rights agreement and the NJSEA signed an agreement with Izod for five years. The company paid $1.4 million per year for the first two years of the agreement; when the Nets left, it dropped to $750,000 per year for the balance of the five-year deal. The columns of the arena's exterior were also repainted red as the arena assumed a new color scheme.
In September 2006, the Nets and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority announced an extension of their lease to keep the team in the Meadowlands until 2013, with a provision to leave as early as 2009 if the Brooklyn arena was completed. It was reported that Ratner was seeking to sell the Nets, thus thwarting any possible move to Brooklyn. In 2009, Newark mayor Cory Booker and Devils owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek called for the closing of the Izod Center, because it was a competing venue to the Prudential Center for events, and a "drain on taxpayers."
In October 2009, a deal was brokered, for the Nets to play at the Prudential Center for two seasons, beginning in the 2010–11 NBA season. The deal also included a partnership with the Prudential Center hosting sporting events (Devils, Nets, Seton Hall), and the Izod Center handling concerts and family shows. The two arenas proposed a joint venture, Jersey Presents LLC, to wrestle leverage from promoters who had been playing the two against each other. "You can’t have two venues that close together fighting each other and have that be productive for the state", said Jerry Zaro, economic czar to former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, who brokered the deal. The Nets' agreement to play the 2010–11 and 2011–12 seasons in Newark was finalized on February 18, 2010. On April 12, 2010 the Nets played their final game at the Izod Center, a 105–95 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, with Terrence Williams making the final basket scored on the court.
With the loss of its major tenants, the Izod Center served primarily as a venue for travelling events, such as concerts and ice shows, and other occasional local events such as graduation ceremonies. New Jersey's government considered possible options for the arena, including selling or leasing it to another operator, or closing it entirely. Triple Five Group had attempted to negotiate taking over the arena so it could be incorporated into the nearby American Dream Meadowlands complex, but the deal fell through. The arena reported losses for 2013, also facing competition from Barclays Center in landing major concerts, and it was estimated that the arena would lose $8.5 million over the course of 2015. Even with its use during Super Bowl XLVIII, Izod Center reported a $45,800 loss from the event.
On January 15, 2015, as urged by state governor Chris Christie, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority voted to close Izod Center. Under a two-year, $2 million agreement with Devils Arena Entertainment LLC, most future events scheduled for Izod Center were moved to Prudential Center, and Izod Center will be left dormant. While the arena was originally expected to be shut down by the end of January, logistical issues required certain upcoming events to still be held at Izod: its final event was a Ringling Bros. circus event in March 2015. Under the terms of the agreement, the operators of Prudential Center received the profits from any events held at Izod Center after January 31, 2015. The fate of Meadowlands Arena after 2017 is unclear, but it will most likely be demolished and redeveloped into a hotel and casino.
On July 14, 2016, The Record reported that Devils Arena Entertainment had yet to pay the first $500,000 installment of its $2 million agreement with the NJSEA. On August 11, 2016, the NJSEA announced that it would allow musicians to book the arena for use as a rehearsal facility. Prudential Center president Hugh Weber noted that Coldplay had similarly done so prior to their tour stop at nearby MetLife Stadium, and that while Prudential Center has frequently seen similar bookings, there is a large backlog due to the venue's high traffic.
The arena has primarily served as a sports venue in its history. The arena was the home of the NBA's New Jersey Nets basketball franchise from 1981 to 2010. It was the home arena for the NHL's New Jersey Devils hockey franchise from 1982 to 2007 and the NCAA's Seton Hall Pirates men's basketball team from 1982 to 2007 as well as continuing to play host to various regular season men's college basketball, most recently on December 8, 2012, between Duke University and Temple University. Izod Center used two separate floors for NBA and NCAA basketball—a standard hardwood floor for Nets and the arena's old parquet floor for regular season college basketball (since 2007, the NCAA has used a uniform floor for regional sites).
College basketball first arrived at the arena with the opening rounds of the 1984 NCAA basketball tournament. Seton Hall moved its Big East Conference men's basketball games to the arena for the 1985–1986 season, enhancing a tradition that would soon become rich. The arena hosted the NCAA Men's Final Four in 1996, the last traditional arena to do so to date. On eleven occasions (1986–91, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2004, 2007) the arena hosted the semifinals and finals of the tournament's East Regional. Only Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium, which hosted 13 regional finals from 1940 to 1952, has hosted more. It also hosted the 1982–1989 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 1986 Atlantic Ten Conference men's basketball tournaments.
One of the most memorable moments in the venue's history came on January 22, 1987, when the "334 club" was formed. After New Jersey was hit with 20 inches (51 cm) of snow, only 334 fans attended the Devils' 7–5 victory over the Calgary Flames.
Other teams that have called the arena home include the New Jersey Rockets of the Major Indoor Soccer League, the New Jersey Rockin' Rollers of Roller Hockey International, and the New Jersey Red Dogs / Gladiators of the Arena Football League. Two different National Lacrosse League teams have played at the arena—the New Jersey Saints from 1987 to 1988, and the New Jersey Storm from 2002 to 2003. The New York Cosmos also used the arena to host indoor soccer games.
On February 12, 2011, the arena hosted Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva. In November 2011, the Izod Center was the host of the final round of the TicketCity Legends Classic. The UFC on Fox 3 event took place at the arena on May 5, 2012.
Izod Center has played host to the 1995, 2000, 2001, and 2003 Stanley Cup Finals. The arena has seen the Devils clinch two of their three Stanley Cup championships before a home crowd, winning Game 4 of the 1995 Finals over the Detroit Red Wings and Game 7 of the 2003 Finals over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks; the Devils other Stanley Cup win took place at Dallas' Reunion Arena in 2000. The arena also was host to the Los Angeles Lakers winning an NBA Championship by sweeping the Nets on June 12, 2002, and again the next year, when the Nets lost in six games to the San Antonio Spurs. Izod Center is the most recent of five venues to host the Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals at the same time, the other four are Boston Garden, Madison Square Garden in New York, The Spectrum in Philadelphia and Chicago Stadium. Game 3 of the 1983-84 NASL Indoor Finals was played there on April 11, 1984 between the Cosmos and the San Diego Sockers. This also happened to be the last indoor game ever played in the North American Soccer League, as the league folded in early 1985. It was one of the busiest arenas in North America in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, playing host to numerous championship and neutral games.
The arena also hosted the NCAA Men's Final Four (basketball) in 1996, which was won by the University of Kentucky, and included Syracuse University, the University of Massachusetts, and Mississippi State University.
The parking lot of the Izod Center has also been the scene of the Devils' championship celebrations and Nets rallies. Tailgating before home games was very popular when the arena had tenants.
New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen remains one of the most popular concert acts; his appearances have included a six-night run to open the arena in July 1981, a 10-night sold-out run in 1984, an 11-night run in 1992 and a 15-night sold-out run in 1999. This last feat was commemorated by a large banner hanging from the rafters, next to the banners representing the achievements of the resident sports teams. Additionally, a number of tracks from his 1986 live album Live/1975-85 were recorded at the arena during concerts in 1981 and 1984. In 2015, Springsteen's August 5, 1984, concert was officially released as a live album.
Queen performed their final New Jersey show, with lead vocalist Freddie Mercury and bass guitarist John Deacon, during their Hot Space Tour on August 9, 1982, with Billy Squier as their opening act. Queen + Paul Rodgers performed during their Queen + Paul Rodgers Tour on October 16, 2005, as one of the only two US dates that year. This marked the first live performance by Queen in the US in 23 years.
The Rolling Stones performed three consecutive shows, during their 1981 North American Tour, on November 5–7, 1981, with George Thorogood & The Destroyers and The J. Geils Band as their opening acts. The shows on the 5th and 6th were filmed and partially featured on their live-concert film, entitled Let's Spend the Night Together.
Cher performed two shows during her, then, Farewell Tour on July 2, 2002 and April 13, 2005. On her DVD Cher: Live at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, there is a video of her rehearsing at the Izod Center.
Simon & Garfunkel performed two consecutive shows during their Old Friends Reunion Tour, on December 7–8, 2003, with The Everly Brothers as their opening act. They performed "Leaves That Are Green" in place of "Song for the Asking", which had been on their setlist for other concerts on this tour, following an announcement that they had not played it live since 1967.
The arena played host to the final show of the politically motivated Vote for Change Tour on October 13, 2004, featuring performances by Patti Scialfa, Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, with special guest John Fogerty and unannounced guest Eddie Vedder.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers performed two consecutive shows, during their Stadium Arcadium World Tour, on October 17–18, 2006, with The Mars Volta as their opening act. The band chose the arena as the venue to film the music video for their song "Snow (Hey Oh)", including shots of the stairwells and tunnels. It was the last music video to feature lead guitarist John Frusciante with long hair.
Prince & The New Power Generation kicked off their Welcome 2 American Tour, with two consecutive shows on December 15 and 17, 2010. They also performed two impromptu semi-private shows in the "Hospitality Room", where 50 fans attended the show on the 16th and 30 attended the show on the 18th.
The "Love for Levon" concert took place on October 3, 2012, as a tribute to late drummer/singer Levon Helm of The Band. The show featured a wide variety of musicians who had worked with Helm, as well as musicians who were influenced by him. Proceeds from the show went towards keeping Helm's Woodstock barn in his family's control, as well as continuing his Midnight Ramble concert series in the barn. The show's musical directors were Don Was and Levon Helm collaborator Larry Campbell. The concert was released on CD/DVD on March 19, 2013.
Fordham University's men's basketball team used the Izod Center as an alternate home court for four games in the 2010–11 season. The average attendance for these games was only 1,799, which was approximately half of the capacity of Fordham's normal home, Rose Hill Gymnasium.
The Winner's Club was an luxury bar and restaurant inside the arena that hosted parties and group events, private or public.
The Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey was established in 1988 to honor athletes, teams, events and contributors associated with the state of New Jersey. There is no physical site or structure for the hall, but its members are honored with plaques that are displayed at Izod Center.
Izod Center was frequently cited near the bottom of arena polls. It was commonly referred to as "cold and dull" in appearance, as well as being "cavernous". In a 2005 poll, USA Today rated it the worst arena in the NBA, with the distance of the inexpensive seats from the court, and the level of crowding in the concourse after the game cited as reasons.
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