Conceived as a lure for landing major sports franchises in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in 1971, Meadowlands Arena landed the big ones. Stanley Cup Finals, NBA Finals. NCAA Final Four.
The idea of the East Rutherford Arena fascinated franchise owners throughout most of the 1970s and remained a nationally recognized arena nearly 30 years after its construction. But in the end, shiny lures proved to be more effective.
This century saw the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the Prudential Center in Newark. The Nassau Coliseum and Madison Square Garden have undergone renovations. And in November 2021, another arena outside Belmont Park opened: UBS Arena (effectively replacing the Coliseum).
When the idea for the Meadowlands Sports Complex took shape in 1971, two things were clear. We need a revenue-generating horse racing track and a football team to put it on the map, said William McDowell, a former freeholder in Bergen County. The Record that May.
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Officials from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority said they would build the arena, but teams had to come first. In May 1971, McDowell explained that it was intended to build a sports and entertainment hub.
“The Giants have to commit within the next six weeks,” McDowell said. “The Yankees are at a loss.”
The New York Yankees remained in the Bronx, but the racetrack and stadium remained intact and opened in 1976. The following summer, the seeds of the region’s competitive arena his scene were sown by then-New York Nets president Roy Bo.
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In July 1977, Bo sent a letter of intent to the Sports and Exposition Authority. His team would relocate from the Nassau Coliseum and become his main tenant once the Meadowlands Sports Complex has an indoor arena. It was originally known as the Brendan Byrne Arena.
That was the deal they offered, but officials at the agency were arguing that for concerts, circuses, and other spectacles during the 320 days a year when the Nets were absent, they would move to nearby Madison Square Garden and, to a lesser extent, the more hopeless. I was concerned about competing with the Nassau Coliseum.I’m playing at home. The RecordThe editorial board of and the then-governor of the building of the same name, Brendan Byrne, doubted the profitability of the chase in the days that followed.
“We may not have enough events or customers,” says Byrne.
The authorities, on the other hand, had tax-free land, abundant parking, and low interest rates. Byrne also said the gardens had a potential customer base of state residents who regularly supplied his third of the gates. By the end of July, regulatory authorities had approved the transaction. The Nets had moved to New Jersey.
Contractors broke ground on the stadium in early 1979, after a lengthy environmental and financial review. Following the January 1978 Hartford Civic Center and the June 1979 cave-ins at Kansas City’s Kemper Arena, authorities officials ordered additional steel for his buttresses for the roof and terminal at Woodridge. Construction Corporation extended the project.
Meanwhile, Bo’s financial difficulties jeopardize the plan. When the Nets set up dorms at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, Bo piled up snow removal bills and reported $77,000 in arrears. The Record.
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The Authority’s executive director, Jack Clampe, has faced criticism for building an arena for an under-attended NBA team.yet he said The Record In 1978, he was confident another NBA team would fill the seat. Additionally, three National Hockey League teams had expressed interest in the arena, he said.
Among the leading contenders were the Colorado Rockies. His struggling NHL franchise was recently bought by New Jersey billionaire Arthur his Imperatore. Arthur Imperatore had planned to bring the team to the complex, but instead moved it to the riverside railway yards of Hoboken and Weehawken.
The Nets were supposed to be out on day one, but the arena still costs the state. In total, his initial cost estimate of $50 million from $40 million totaled about $85 million.
The Grad Partnership and the general design of Dilullo, Clauss, Ostroki & Partners opened on July 2, 1981. On the side was the name of Governor Byrne. Bruce Springsteen was in the marquee. “Boss” gave 6 concerts in 6 days. The prospects for generating revenue for the arena looked strong.
The Brendan Byrne Arena welcomed the New Jersey Nets on October 31, 1981. With the NBA All-Star Game within a year, Colorado of the NHL realized Imperatore’s intention to move the Rockies to New Jersey, albeit under different ownership. On October 5, 1982, it was co-occupied by the renamed New Jersey Devils. Under President and General Manager Lula Moriello, the Devils made his 13th consecutive playoff appearance, and in 25 years he won three of his five Stanley Cup Finals. The Devils were the arena’s most successful team.
It was my first time to leave.
Following the 2007 season, the Devils left for Newark’s new Prudential Center. The Meadowlands’ basketball-specific layout quickly became restrictive, at least according to team officials who depended on strong income to sustain employment. Newark-based Continental Airlines, which purchased the plane, opted out of the deal.
By that time, the New Jersey Nets had also indicated their intention to move to Brooklyn. It was marred by the tragic death of 28-year-old Croatian star Drazen Petrovic in a car accident.
By 2005, Meadowlands Arena was named by Greg Boeck as having the worst prices for NBA ticket buyers. United States of America today A writer who has visited every venue in the league. That was despite the intrinsic value added by Arena’s famous Mrs. Fields Cookie, he noted.
While waiting for the arena in Brooklyn, New York to open, the Nets continued to play at the newly renamed IZOD Arena. However, politicians, including then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker, called for the arena to be closed and consolidated into the new Prudential Center. The final Nets game at Meadowlands Arena on April 12, 2010 put an end to the arena’s raison d’etre.
Over the next five years, the arena bustled with ice shows, concerts and graduations. In January 2015, the Authority Board decided to end its creation given the bleak earnings outlook and a loss of about $700,000 per month. All reserved reservations are sent to the Prudential Center at a discounted rate of $2 million.
Though closed for public events, Meadowlands Arena was used privately throughout most of the 2010s as a rehearsal stage for musicians preparing for concerts in the area. More recently, NBC Universal leased the arena to shoot video productions.
David Zimmer is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. Subscribe today or activate your digital account for unlimited access to the most important news from your local community.