Thursday, January 15, 2015

Deal to close New Jersey's Izod Center to be announced Thursday: Report

The Izod Center — the New Jersey state-owned arena that has been part of the Meadowlands Sports Complex in New Jersey for more than three decades — is expected to close its doors at the end of the month.

Under an agreement expected to be announced Thursday, the birthplace of the Devils, past home to the Nets and the House That Springsteen Built, will finally be taken off life support and most likely close its doors within weeks.

The once state-of-the-art venue — which opened in 1981 as Brendan Byrne Arena, named after the former New Jersey governor before being renamed Continental Airlines Arena in 1996 and then the Izod Center in 2007 — has reached a deal with the Prudential Center that grants the Newark venue official hosting rights to the Izod Center's events calendar. 

A source familiar with the agreement pushed through by a Gov. Chris Christie task force, told that, as part of the deal, the 34-year-old Izod Center — which has been struggling financially in the wake of growing competition — will remain dark for the two-year duration of the contract.

Since the Devils, Nets, and the Seton Hall University men's basketball team all stopped playing games there at the end of the last decade, the IZOD Center has held sporadic events and a steady stream of identity recognition.

While the Giants and Jets got a shiny new MetLife Stadium next door, the Devils and Seton Hall moved into the Prudential Center and the Nets went to Brooklyn, the IZOD lay there decaying and confused — a neglected companion for that Xanadu monstrosity.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo criticized the Sports Authority's board — in which all 18 members are appointed by Christie — for not taking any bids from companies who could privatize the operation. Sarlo said he's unsure what will happen to the 18,000-seat arena after it's shuttered.

The two-year agreement calls for all future events currently scheduled for the Izod Center to be moved to the Prudential Center, effective Jan. 31. According to the Izod calendar, those include concerts by Chris Brown and Maroon 5, a Ringling Bros. circus, and a Disney event.

But, for anyone who braved the traffic, endured the lousy teams and the building's imperfections, being sprung from the Exit 16W toll for a game or show, it didn't matter.

Even if meant being stuck in the swamps of Jersey.

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