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Official Review by Jim Mancari, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
For now, the New Jersey Nets are calling the Prudential Center in Newark home. The seven-acre, $375 million arena opened in October 2007, but the Nets did not start playing games their until the 2010–2011 season. The team used to play at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford in the Izod Center (formerly known as Continental Airlines Arena).
The 2011–2012 season will be the Nets' final season in New Jersey as the team prepares to move to Brooklyn. The 675,000-square foot, $4.9 billion Barclays Center complex will be complete for the start of the 2012–2013 season. It will mark the first time since the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1957 that Brooklyn will have a professional sports team.
The Nets — who play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference — are currently celebrating their 35th season as an NBA franchise. The team previously existed as the New York Americans and New York Nets of the American Basketball Association.
The Prudential Center is nicknamed "The Rock" since Prudential Financial's symbol is the Rock of Gibraltar. The arena is owned by the Newark Housing Authority and seats 18,711 fans for basketball games.
The stadium has a main and upper concourse as well as 76 luxury suites. The New Jersey Devils and Seton Hall University Pirates (basketball) also play their home games at "The Rock." The arena is also the temporary home of the New York Liberty, since Madison Square Garden will undergo further renovations during the team's season.
The past decade for the Nets has only yielded four playoff appearances after reaching back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. The team has many different faces as it hopes to clear salary cap space to make a run at a few high-profile free agents to lead the team to Brooklyn.
As the Nets play out their final season at the Prudential Center, the team is "Jersey Strong, Brooklyn Ready."
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
"The Rock" has a tremendous selection of food and beverages that would appeal to any fans that enter the building. What's better is that the selection goes beyond the typical stadium concessions.
Local Newark cuisine is a highlight of the Taste of Newark stand on the upper concourse and the Beers of Newark stand on the main concourse. Beers start at $7.50 - a relatively reasonable price.
The Prudential Center offers many ethnic and cultural food choices. Not too many arenas in the country can say they have a sushi bar. Definitely check out The One Sushi Bar located on the main concourse.
The Taste of Europe beer garden, the 7 City Grill and Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen round out the eclectic mix of concession choices. Both levels have similar stands.
The Fire and Ice Lounge is a full bar with concessions on either side. However, access is only granted to those with first level seating.
The arena features two cylinders - one on either side of the building - that serve as the main points of entrance. The South Tower and the PNC Tower give "The Rock" a modern look from the outside.
Newark is famous for its bricklaying and railroad history. The stadium does a nice job of capturing that heritage with its red and grey exterior.
Inside the arena, fans can follow along with the action on Rock Vision, the stadium's overhead scoreboard. The Team Hype dance group and the Nets Dancers entertain the crowd during stoppages in play. Also, the team's mascot Sly Fox is a fan favorite.
Famous rap artist Jay-Z is a part owner of the team and can often be seen sitting in the front row at games. His music pumps up the crowd before the games as well.
The Nets are understandably secondary in the state of New Jersey to the Devils, and the Prudential Center is dominated with Devils memorabilia. It's challenging enough to transform a hockey rink into a basketball court, but it would be nice to see a bit more Nets posters and jerseys hanging throughout the concourses.
Newark is an area that is still improving, but the Prudential Center has certainly helped with the revitalization and renaissance of the downtown area. Plus, New York City is only 12 miles away.
The Brick City Bar and Grill is located right on Edison Place outside the stadium. It's an upscale sports dining venue that's packed with fans before and after games.
The Edison Ale House and Lofty 47 Bistro are also on Edison Place within walking distance of the arena.
The Arena Lounge is on Mulberry Street and features the longest happy hour in town (3-9 p.m.). Martinis are $5, and beers are $2.
Hell's Kitchen on Lafayette Street is also a popular pre- and post-game hotspot. It's open until 2 a.m. on weeknights and 3 a.m. on weekends for fans that want to linger after a game.
Not only have the Nets had a few poor seasons in a row, but the team is also on the verge of leaving New Jersey.
However, the attendance at the Prudential Center has not waned. Fans realize that there will be limited opportunities to see the team, especially due to the shortened NBA season as a result of the lockout.
Considering the circumstances surrounding the team, the fans that show up are passionate about their New Jersey Nets.
Though he's been voted the most hated NBA player due to his divorce with Kim Kardashian, Nets power forward Kris Humphries is a fan favorite in Newark. There are usually several signs per game praising "The Big Hump."
All roads lead to Rome and also to "The Rock." The arena is surrounded by highways such as I-280, I-78, the New Jersey Turnpike, U.S. 1/9, NJ 21, U.S. 22 and the Garden State Parkway.
Still, the best way to get to the Prudential Center is to use public transportation. The arena is located just two blocks from Newark Penn Station. The New Jersey Transit, PATH, Amtrak and Newark Light Rail all can lead to "The Rock."
Driving in rush hour in the tri-state area can be brutal on a weekday before game time, so making use of public transportation can be a hassle free way to arrive at the game.
The one drawback is that the gates open only one hour prior to the opening tip-off.
Tickets for a Nets game can range anywhere from $13 for upper level seating to over $500 for floor seats. This is pretty typical of most NBA arenas.
The view even from the highest seats at "The Rock" isn't bad at all, since the arena once again only has two levels.
Your best option would be to look for tickets at the popular online marketplace sites such as StubHub, in which tickets can be purchased for less than $5 each.
Though there are many parking lots in the downtown Newark area, parking costs $25-$30 - another great reason to take public transportation. Add up the cost for concessions, and it could be an expensive evening.
But then again, it's also the last time to possibly see the Nets play in New Jersey, so the experience can be well worth it for any long-time fan.
The Prudential Center is immaculately clean, and the concourses are extremely spacious. Even during games with a sellout crowd, the concourses are easily navigable.
Each concourse offers unobstructed views of downtown Newark, which can be a picturesque site when lit up at night.
The seating area of the arena is very open and the rows are spacious. Interactive fan amenities are located around every corner.
For those fans feeling lucky, each concourse is equipped with a New Jersey Lottery kiosk. What could be better than a Nets win and winning the lotto on the same night?
With the move to Brooklyn imminent, there are only a few chances left to see the New Jersey Nets in action at the Prudential Center.
While the team may not be the most competitive, the arena is a state-of-the-art facility and provides a unique game-viewing experience.
So if you don't get the chance to visit "The Rock" for a Nets game before they move, there's always the Devils.
Member Review by shamus170 on Apr 04, 2010
The Izod Center has its days numbered as the last remaining professional tenant will be leaving at the end of this year. The New Jersey Nets, who have played the last 28 years in the Meadowlands, are making a pit stop in Newark to the Prudential Center before permanently moving to Brooklyn. The building never has had a special place in fan's hearts and it likely will not be missed too much when the arena says goodbye.
The Izod Center simply serves the purpose of hosting a basketball game. There is no stand-out feature in the building, no great atmosphere and no historical significance, though it has hosted numerous NCAA Tournament basketball games. The Nets have had some success here as the NBA Finals twice came to the Meadowlands in the early part of the 2000s. Since then, New Jersey has become one of the worst NBA teams of all time making an already dull atmosphere at the Izod Center even poorer.
Member Review by DrewCieszynski on Nov 25, 2010
It appears that Stadium Journey will be retiring the IZOD Center shortly. Looking forward to a new review on the Nets' new/temporary home at the Prudential Center
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