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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Updated: Bergen Officials Condemn Closing of Izod Center, Essex Officials See Opportunity


While many officials in Bergen County are condemning the upcoming two year closure of the Izod Center in East Rutherford, some officials in Essex County were pleased to hear the announcement. This is because events previously scheduled for the Izod Center, which opened 34 years ago as the Brendan Byrne Arena, will now take place at Downtown Newark's Prudential Center. The Prudential Center opened in October, 2007, and is currently the home to the New Jersey Devils, basketball teams for Seton Hall University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and touring concerts.


In a statement, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. said that he has "always maintained that this region should not have two major sports and entertainment venues", adding that the "Prudential Center is one of the finest and most modern facilities of its kind, offering its visitors a first-class experience whether they are cheering for their home team, watching an ice show or enjoying a concert. The City of Newark, Essex County and Northern Jersey have witnessed economic growth and job creation because of ‘The Rock’ and its impact will continue to grow and benefit this region".


Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka express similar thoughts, saying that the closing will "represent an opportunity for Newark to shine in a brighter light, as the many entertainment programs scheduled for that facility will come to our world-class Prudential Center in our downtown". However, Baraka acknowledged that the city's "joy...is tempered by the knowledge that one of our state's great and iconic entertainment centers is darkening its lights and closing its doors".


The decision by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) has angered many lawmakers in Bergen County. State Senator Paul Sarlo said at a meeting of the NJSEA that the Izod Center has been one of the "greatest sports and entertainment arenas in the entire country for many, many years", and that it is being closed "without a plan". Sarlo's legislative district includes the Izod Center.


However, some Newark leaders are upset about the closing of the Izod Center. Ramona Thompson of the Newark Downtown District told Essex County Place that "it is definitely unfortunate because the Izod is a great venue that people in New Jersey and surrounding areas have visited and loved for a decades".

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UPDATED 1/16/15 at 6:30pm