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  • Steven Kee

Prudential Center – New Jersey Devils


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Prudential Center 165 Mulberry St Newark, NJ 07102

New Jersey Devils website

Prudential Center website


Year Opened: 2007

Capacity: 17,625


 

Solid as a Rock in New Jersey

No, they have not started playing games on Alcatraz. The New Jersey Devils have been playing games at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey., lovingly known as “The Rock” since 2007. This was a $375 million dollar move from the Brendan Byrne/Continental Airlines Arena/IZOD Center located at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford that would give the three-time Stanley Cup champions a first-class building to call home.

The Devils played at the Meadowlands arena for nearly 30 years. This move was to help create a revitalization of Newark, an area which it has been attempting to do since the riots of 1967. The Prudential Center was to be the cornerstone of this revitalization that also included the Newark Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium (since demolished) and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. “The Rock” however is a more viable and proven candidate to be the city’s symbol for revitalization.

Almost fifteen years later, the revitalization has yet to be seen. This structure was a wise move because of its multipurpose uses year-round and with an established major league team taking residency. The Prudential Center’s location is designed not to pull people into the bowels of the city, yet it gives patrons the opportunity to drive in and drive right back out.

The Prudential Center’s location and restaurants were built on the edge of the city for visual purposes. The structure itself is a sight to see and deliberately meant to draw your eyes’ focus to it with its red & black exterior and with its cylindrical glass, three-story corners. Outside there are statues that pay homage to hockey and a newly created Record Academy Grammy Museum Experience at the Prudential Center attached within its walls with a separate exterior entrance.

Food & Beverage 5

The arena offers a variety of “Jersey” food, including boardwalk-staple zeppoles, diner-favorite Taylor ham, Italian hot dog, and disco fries, and mojo chicken from the city’s Ironbound district. The local cuisine is definitely worth a taste and makes for a great alternative to the boring hot dog and nacho options.

Taylor ham–pork roll to folks in the southern part of the state–is served stuffed inside a stromboli at the Villa Italian Kitchen, on a burger with cheese and hollandaise aioli at The Jersey Grind, and traditionally on a sandwich with cheese at the Bayonne stand. The popular late-night dish disco fries are similar to poutine, but features melted mozzarella cheese with gravy. The Premio stand sells another local favorite, Italian sausage, pepper, and onion sandwich.

The New Jersey Italian Dog is a regional favorite that consists of a deep-fried hot dog stuffed into pizza dough and topped with deep-fried potatoes, peppers, and onions–there are even a few people who drizzle a bit of ketchup on it. It can be found at The Line Change that offers Devils players’ favorite foods from beef sliders, roasted beet salad, and Kyle’s sandwich, a shaved pastrami, and turkey sandwich served with coleslaw on rye.

Deep-fried balls of dough called zeppoles are a perfect way to round out your meal at the Boardwalk stand and cost $8. The deep-fried balls of dough sprinkled with confectioners sugar are a Jersey Shore staple during the summertime. There are also ice cream waffle sandwiches, deep-fried Oreos, and funnel cakes to satisfy one’s sweet tooth.

The local Newark food scene is also represented in the upper level at the Ironbound concession stand. Patrons can enjoy sirloin tri-tip sandwiches with grilled onions, garlic parsley, and dolloped with chimichurri sauce for $16. There are also beef empanadas for $9, Cuban sandwiches, and tasty Yuca fries.

The local New Jersey craft beer scene is well-represented inside the building. Forgotten Boardwalk, New Jersey Beer Company, Departed Souls, Cricket Hill, Kane, and Carton varieties are available either in cans or drafts ranging in prices usually found at a major sporting event.

Atmosphere 4

The Prudential Center is among the newest venues in the league but has seen a few upgrades the last couple of seasons to improve and enhance the game day experience. The organization has begun a fan-first culture that begins with greeters welcoming folks to the game as they exit the escalators.

Outside the arena is Championship Plaza, a huge gathering space before the game that is home to a 22-foot, 6,000-pound stainless steel hockey player statue. On the other side of the building is the Martin Brodeur statue that was dedicated in 2016. The future Hall of Famer and NHL leader in career wins, shutouts, and a host of other records weighs in at 1,000 pounds.

The Devils incorporate 3D graphics projected on the ice that move back and forth from the fire, ice, and other vivid images. The pre-game production is also narrated by former great Ken Daneyko and highlights of the team’s Stanley Cup wins and other great moments. The arena is also home to the largest center-hung video digital scoreboard providing fans with information, replays, and highlights. The 89,000-pound scoreboard is almost four stories tall and was created to provide the ultimate live experience at the arena.

The team’s official mascot N.J. Devil skates onto the ice waving a glowing pitchfork before the game. Later, he can be found throughout the building in the stands banging a drum, posing for photos with fans, and cheering on the Devils after every score.

The team also employs a live organist Pete Cannarozzi who has his area for fans to pose for pictures on the lower mezzanine section. The team’s official goal song is “Howl” by Gaslight Anthem; the easy-going arena-rocker song seems to be popular with the home crowd.

When you arrive at your seats they provide great views of the ice that are not obstructed by the copious amounts of championship banners and retired numbers that hang on all four sides from the ceiling. The seats are plush, cozy, and provide an ample amount of leg space. The atmosphere is heightened when the teams play against rivals New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.

Neighborhood 3

The Prudential Center is in a nice little pocket in Newark where fans can easily walk to great places to eat and get back and forth through mass transit. The Ironbound District is easily one of the state’s premier neighborhoods and definitely worth a visit even after a night of hockey.

The GRAMMY Museum Experience is located at the Prudential Center and worth a visit before the game. The 8,200 square-foot is an interactive, experiential museum devoted to the history and winners of the Grammy Awards. The exhibits offer multimedia presentations, public events, and educational programming, and highlight some of New Jersey’s most famous music industry stars and homegrown talent.

The Ironbound neighborhood is a mixed-use of residential homes, retail, coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries, clubs, and parks that is located half a mile from the venue on Ferry Street. The predominantly Portuguese neighborhood is home to some of the best Spanish-Portuguese establishments in the metropolitan area. The Iberian Peninsula, Iberia, Spanish Tavern, and Mompou are just a few of many restaurants where one can enjoy flavorful and classic dishes from Spain, Portugal, and Brazil (rodizio).

A few steps away from the main entrance of the arena is Dinosaur BBQ, among the best spots in the state for brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and tasty sides. It is recommended to take advantage of the happy hour specials from 3 pm – 7 pm. The Dino Poutine is made with pulled pork, pimento cheese, and brown gravy. In a state where barbecue is an afterthought to pizza, this will more than likely be your favorite spot for barbecue.

The Edison Ale House serves pub fare and a tap list of 16 beers that are 2 for 1 during happy hour. Redd’s Biergarten offers German cuisine and beers and happy hour specials from 2 pm – 7 pm that includes specials on half liters of beers and pulled pork sliders and wings.

When attending a game there are several parking garages within walking distance and plenty of police security. Unfortunately, the city Is still known as a “dangerous” neighborhood. It has been an extremely slow sprawl of restaurants. Next to the arena are more restaurants where you can make a day of it, however, nobody is making a night of it.

Fans 3

Say what you want to say about attendance figures, the hardcore Devils fan in attendance know their hockey, and support their club passionately. The team is averaging 90 percent capacity for home games, while their rivals across the river boast 95 percent at MSG. The Devils had a nice stretch of playoffs and Stanley Cup runs the past quarter-century, but after its last Stanley Cup appearance in 2012, the once-dominant Devils have one playoff appearance (2018). The loyal fans deserve much more and perhaps their patience will be awarded this decade.

Access 5

The Prudential Center is located 2 blocks from Newark Penn Station providing services to New York City and other points in New Jersey via Amtrak, PATH, NJ Transit, and Newark Light Rail. The cost of a PATH train ticket is $2.75 one-way and has stops in New York in Greenwich Village, the 9/11 Memorial, and Brooklyn Bridge and to Hoboken and Jersey City in New Jersey. The PATH will also take visitors to 33rd Street in Manhattan, several blocks from Times Square.

The parking lots range from as low as $15 to as high as $35. One option is to park at the Iberia Restaurant for free in the Ironbound district–if you grab something to eat or drink–and walk the seven blocks to the arena. This location also has street parking and small lots that should cost you between $5-$10.

Inside the building, the spacious concourses are broken into two sections offering fans easy access to seating assignments, concessions, bathrooms, and exits. Traffic inside moves freely during game action but will get crowded, like most other hockey arenas, during intermission.

Return on Investment 4

The cost of a ticket will depend on who the Devils are playing. A single-game ticket against its arch-rivals New York Rangers starts $82 and will more than likely sell out closer to game time, tickets on the secondary market will sell for half the price. This is one game that will be worth the price of admission due to the history of both clubs in the same media market. Ranger fans have easy access via the PATH trains from Manhattan and Devil fans will make sure they don’t get too comfortable on the other side of the Hudson.

The Devil’s other rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, will cost much less but are no less intense as they are hated as much as the Broadway Blues. Affordable options include visits from Toronto, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Ottawa, and Chicago that will cost under $30 in advance. The return on investment depends on your price point. The concession prices tend to be high but are in line with other NHL venues and parking is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost at MetLife Stadium or venues in New York City. The modern building also provides comfortable views of the rink and easy access to all sections and concourse levels.

Extras 4

The arena receives one point for the Jersey-inspired food that includes Taylor ham, zeppoles, Italian hot dogs, and disco fries. These are items you won’t find at other NHL arenas and are inclusive. You can also wash it down with a local craft beer or cider.

A second point for the respect towards the organization’s history dating back to 1982 when the club arrived from Denver. There are murals of former greats, trophy cases featuring the clubs three Stanley Cups, and the Brodeur statue. The retired numbers of Hall of Famers Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, and Brodeur also make everyone know who’s building this is. The arena also displays almost every high school hockey jersey in the state.

A third point for being one of two NHL arenas that have partnered with KultureCity with providing sensory training to its staff for customers with autism. There are sensory rooms, social stores, and sensory bags for customers and parents with children on the spectrum.

A fourth point for the gigantic video scoreboard that is the largest in the league. The newly installed board provides an innovative way to connect fans to the game on the ice and through social media.

Final Thoughts

The Prudential Center is a stunning facility that offers almost everything the hockey fan would want and need in the 21st century. The arena is accessible via mass transit, close to great restaurants, and offers a copious amount of services and features throughout the game. With the Devils playing winning hockey at the moment, the experience will only get better at “The Rock.”

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