The Izod Center as seen from a nearby parking garage. The banner displaying the arena's name has since been taken down and replaced by a permanent sign.
|Former names||Brendan Byrne Arena (1981–1996)
Continental Airlines Arena (1996–2007)
|Location||50 State Route 120
East Rutherford, New Jersey
|Opened||July 2, 1981|
|Owner||New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority|
|Operator||New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority|
|Construction cost||US$85 million|
|Architect||Grad Partnership and Dilullo, Clauss, Ostroki & Partners|
|Capacity||20,049 (NBA Basketball)
20,029 (NCAA Basketball)
|New Jersey Nets (NBA) (1981–2010)
New York Cosmos (NASL Indoor) (1981-1984); (MISL) (1984-1985)
New Jersey Devils (NHL) (1982–2007)
Seton Hall Pirates (NCAA Basketball) (1985–2007)
New Jersey Red Dogs/Gladiators (AFL) (1997–2002)
New Jersey Storm (National Lacrosse League) (2001-2003)
Fordham Rams (NCAA Basketball) (2011)
TicketCity Legends Classic (2011–present)
Izod Center (originally Brendan Byrne Arena, formerly Continental Airlines Arena and commonly Meadowlands Arena) is a multi-purpose arena, in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States. It opened in 1981 and has a maximum seating capacity of 20,000. It is primarily used for sports, concerts and other various shows and events.
It was formerly home to the New Jersey Nets of the NBA, the New Jersey Devils of the NHL and the Seton Hall Pirates of the NCAA. The Devils and Seton Hall have since moved to the Prudential Center, in nearby Newark, while the Nets have moved to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It hosted part of the Fordham Rams' men's 2010-2011 basketball schedule. The arena attracts spectators and fans from the New York metropolitan area and New Jersey.
Construction on a new arena across Route 20 (now 120) from Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Racetrack began in 1977. The arena was designed by Grad Partnership and Dilullo, Clauss, Ostroki & Partners and was constructed at a cost of $85 million. Originally named Brendan Byrne Arena (after Brendan Byrne, the sitting governor of the state, who was also a member of the ownership group seeking to bring an NHL team to the State), the arena opened July 2, 1981, with the first of six concerts by New Jersey rock musician Bruce Springsteen. This was followed by an ice show later that month. While the official name of the arena was "Brendan Byrne Arena," on television it was usually referred to as "The Meadowlands."
On October 30, 1981, the New Jersey Nets, who had played their previous four seasons at the Louis Brown Athletic Center at Rutgers University while the arena was being built, relocated to the Meadowlands and made their Brendan Byrne Arena debut, losing to the New York Knicks, 103–99. Later that season, on January 31, 1982, the NBA All-Star Game was hosted at the arena. Shortly after, the New Jersey Devils, relocated from Colorado, playing their first regular season game there on October 5, resulting in a 3–3 tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On January 4, 1996, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority announced a naming rights deal with Continental Airlines (now United Airlines) under which the airline, with a hub at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport, would pay the NJSEA $29 million over 12 years. As Continental Airlines Arena, it hosted the 1996 Final Four—the last Final Four to date that has been held in an arena specifically built for basketball.
On May 5, 2007, the Devils played their last game at the arena, losing 3–2 to the Ottawa Senators, eliminating them from the Eastern Conference semifinals 4–1. Scott Gomez scored the final goal in the building. The Devils subsequently relocated to the newly constructed Prudential Center in nearby Newark, New Jersey at the beginning of the 2007–08 NHL season.
Following the Devils' final season at the arena in 2007, Continental Airlines opted out of the naming rights agreement. A new agreement was made with Izod, a company, to rename the arena Izod Center. The company will pay $1.4 million per annum for the first two years of the agreement; when the Nets left, it dropped to $750,000 per year for the balance of the five-year deal. The columns of the arena's exterior were also repainted red as the arena assumed a new color scheme.
On February 18, 2010, the Nets finalized a deal that would move them to the Prudential Center in Newark until the Barclays Center opens. On April 12, 2010 the Nets played their final game at the arena, a 105–95 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, with Terrence Williams making the final basket scored on the court.
There are plans in place to downscale the Izod Center in conjunction with several developments, leaving much of the arena's future in doubt.
In September 2006, the Nets and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority announced an extension of their lease to keep the team in the Meadowlands until 2013, with a provision to leave as early as 2009 if the Brooklyn arena was completed. It was reported that Ratner was seeking to sell the Nets, thus thwarting any possible move to Brooklyn. In 2009, Newark mayor Cory Booker and Devils owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek called for the closing of the Izod Center, because it was a competing venue to the Prudential Center for events, and a "drain on taxpayers."
In October 2009, a deal was brokered, for the Nets to play at the Prudential Center for two seasons, beginning in the 2010–11 NBA season. The deal also included a partnership with the Prudential Center hosting sporting events (Devils, Nets, Seton Hall), and the Izod Center handling concerts and family shows. The two arenas proposed a joint venture, Jersey Presents LLC, to wrestle leverage from promoters who had been playing the two against each other. “You can’t have two venues that close together fighting each other and have that be productive for the state,” said Jerry Zaro, economic czar to former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, who brokered the deal. The Nets' agreement to play the 2010–11 and 2011–12 seasons in Newark was finalized on February 18, 2010.
The arena has primarily served as a sports venue in its history. The arena was the home of the NBA's New Jersey Nets basketball franchise from 1981 to 2010. It was the home arena for the NHL's New Jersey Devils hockey franchise from 1982 to 2007 and the NCAA's Seton Hall Pirates men's basketball team from 1985 to 2007 as well as continuing to play host to various regular season men's college basketball, most recently on December 8, 2012 between Duke University and Temple University. The Fordham Rams have taken over the former Nets' locker room and now use the arena as their secondary home. Izod Center uses two separate floors for NBA and NCAA basketball- a standard hardwood floor for Nets and the arena's old parquet floor for regular season college basketball (since 2007, the NCAA has used a uniform floor for regional sites).
College basketball first arrived at the arena with the opening rounds of the 1984 NCAA basketball tournament. Seton Hall moved its Big East Conference men's basketball games to the arena for the 1985–1986 season, enhancing a tradition that would soon become rich. The arena hosted the NCAA Men's Final Four in 1996, the last traditional arena to do so to date. On eleven occasions (1986–91, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2004, 2007) the arena hosted the semifinals and finals of the tournament's East Regional. Only Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium, which hosted 13 regional finals from 1940 to 1952, has hosted more. It also hosted the 1982–1989 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 1986 Atlantic Ten Conference men's basketball tournaments.
One of the most memorable moments in the venue's history came on January 22, 1987, when the "334 club" was formed. After New Jersey was hit with 20 inches of snow, only 334 fans attended the Devils' 7–5 victory over the Calgary Flames.
Other teams that have called the arena home include the New Jersey Rockets of the Major Indoor Soccer League, the New Jersey Rockin Rollers of Roller Hockey International, and the New Jersey Red Dogs / Gladiators of the Arena Football League. Two different National Lacrosse League teams have played at the arena – the New Jersey Saints from 1987 to 1988, and the New Jersey Storm from 2002 to 2003. The New York Cosmos also used the arena to host indoor soccer games.
On February 12, 2011, the arena hosted Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva. In November 2011, the Izod Center was the host of the final round of the TicketCity Legends Classic. The UFC on Fox 3 event took place at the arena on May 5, 2012.
Izod Center has played host to the 1995, 2000, 2001, and 2003 Stanley Cup Finals. The arena has seen the Devils clinch two of their three Stanley Cup championships before a home crowd, winning Game 4 of the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals and Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals here (the Devils' other Stanley Cup win took place at Dallas' Reunion Arena in Game 6 of the 2000 Finals). The arena also was host to the Los Angeles Lakers winning an NBA Championship by sweeping the Nets on June 12, 2002, and the Anaheim Bullfrogs winning the 1997 Murphy Cup, the championship of Roller Hockey International, over the New Jersey Rockin' Rollers. The arena also hosted the 2003 NBA Finals. Izod Center is the most recent of five venues to host the Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals at the same time, the other four are Boston Garden, Madison Square Garden in New York, The Spectrum in Philadelphia and Chicago Stadium.
The arena also hosted the NCAA Men's Final Four (basketball) in 1996, which was won by the University of Kentucky, and included Syracuse University, the University of Massachusetts, and Mississippi State University.
The parking lot of the Izod Center has also been the scene of the Devils' championship celebrations.
The arena has been a popular site for concerts, due to having been designed with acoustics in mind and to it having a lesser facility fee for artists than competing venues, such as Madison Square Garden.
Jersey native Bruce Springsteen remains one of the most popular concert acts; his appearances have included a 10–night sold–out run in 1984, an 11–night run in 1992 and a 15–night sold–out run in 1999. This last feat is commemorated by a large banner hanging from the rafters, next to the banners representing the achievements of the resident sports teams.
Queen performed their final New Jersey show, with lead vocalist Freddie Mercury and bass guitarist John Deacon, during their Hot Space Tour on August 9, 1982, with Billy Squier as their opening act. Queen + Paul Rodgers performed during their Queen + Paul Rodgers Tour on October 16, 2005, as one of the only two US dates that year. This marked the first live performance by Queen, in the US, in 23 years, since 1982.
The Rolling Stones performed three consecutive shows, during their 1981 North American Tour, on November 5–7, 1981, with George Thorogood & The Destroyers and The J. Geils Band as their opening acts. The shows on the 5th and 6th were filmed and partially featured on their live concert film, entitled Let's Spend the Night Together.
Cher performed two shows during her, then, Farewell Tour on July 2, 2002 and April 13, 2005. On her DVD Cher: Live at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, there is a video of her rehearsing at the Izod Center.
Simon & Garfunkel performed two consecutive shows during their Old Friends Reunion Tour, on December 7–8, 2003, with The Everly Brothers as their opening act. They performed "Leaves That Are Green" in place of "Song for the Asking", which had been on their setlist for other concerts on this tour, following an announcement that they had not played it live since 1967.
The arena played host to the final show of the politically motivated Vote for Change Tour on October 13, 2004, featuring performances by Patti Scialfa, Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, with special guest John Fogerty and unannounced guest Eddie Vedder.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers performed two consecutive shows, during their Stadium Arcadium World Tour, on October 17–18, 2006, with The Mars Volta as their opening act. The band chose the arena as the venue to film the music video for their song "Snow (Hey Oh)", including shots of the stairwells and tunnels. It was the last music video to feature lead guitarist John Frusciante with long hair.
Prince & The New Power Generation kicked off their Welcome 2 American Tour, with two consecutive shows on December 15 and 17, 2010. They also performed two impromptu semi-private shows in the "Hospitality Room", where 50 fans attended the show on the 16th and 30 attended the show on the 18th.
The venue has hosted World Wrestling Entertainment events such as SummerSlam in 1989, 1997 and 2007, as well as the King of the Ring tournament in 2001 and No Mercy 2004. Additionally, it has also hosted numerous episodes of WWE Raw, as well and WWE SmackDown. Izod Center also hosted No Way Out on June 17, 2012 and returned Monday October 22, 2012 for WWE Raw. World Championship Wrestling also held events at the arena from 1984 to 1992. In the 2007 SummerSlam WWE announced to the live crowd that the 1 Millionth Fan in attendance was recorded that night in the arena, and a banner hangs from the rafters of the arena recognizing the achievement. On April 8, 2013 after WrestleMania XXIX Raw was hosted here.
Fordham University's men's basketball team used the Izod Center as an alternate home court for four games in the 2010–11 season. However, attendance for the four games only averaged 1,799 people, lower than their regular home court average, and only a small fraction of Izod Center's capacity.
Paramus Catholic High School holds their graduation ceremony at the Izod Center. Paramus Catholic, a high school of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, is the only high school in New Jersey to hold a graduation on this scale. The tremendous seating area in the arena allows for an unlimited number of guests per graduate, unlike any other high school graduation in the state.
Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey
The Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey was established in 1988 to honor athletes, teams, events and contributors associated with the state of New Jersey. There is no physical site or structure for the hall, but its members are honored with plaques that are displayed at Izod Center.
Izod Center was frequently cited near the bottom of arena polls. It is commonly referred to as "cold and dull" in appearance, as well as being "cavernous". In a 2005 poll, USA Today rated it the worst arena in the NBA, with the distance of the inexpensive seats from the court, and the level of crowding in the concourse after the game cited as reasons.
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