Thursday, January 15, 2015

Former Home of NHL's Devils May Close

Back from a bout with the flu, and just it time to see that the state wants to shut down the venerable Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey by the end of the month, ostensibly to save money.

The former Brendan Byrne Arena/Meadowlands Arena/Continental Airlines Arena, and the former home of the NHL's New Jersey Devils, it never saw a college hockey contest and hasn't hosted any hockey at all since the Devils left for Newark in 2007, although the dasher boards are still in place minus the glass. The Devils won two of their three Stanley Cups there, in 1995 and 2003, and haven't experienced that same kind of success in Essex County, albeit for the anomaly of 2012 when they lost to Los Angeles in six games in the final.

I saw close to 100 Devils games at the Meadowlands over the years, from 1982 to 2007. I still prefer the game experience there to Newark, even if the Prudential Center is a bit easier for me to get to. The seats in Bergen County were bigger, too, plus cheaper.

This is basically political grandstanding by the Christie administration, more than anything else, to funnel more business towards the Devils' current digs. Although the Izod Center doesn't entertain as many events as it once did, it does still host some three dozen high school and college graduations on an annual basis. Now those schools may all have to scramble to obtain new commencement venues on very short notice thanks to some short-sighted politicians.

The Meadowlands was a great place to watch an NHL game, even if it feels now like a house with all the children gone. It would probably would have been a neat place to host an NCAA Frozen Four as well. Hopefully the building will be saved, or at least re-purposed.

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