Newark leaders say Izod Center closing is boon for state's largest city

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on January 15, 2015

The Prudential Center lights up during a New Year's Eve celebration in 2010.

 

NEWARK — Newark area leaders praised the state's decision to close the Izod Center and move its programming to the Prudential Center as a welcome opportunity to boost the economy of the state's largest city.

The Izod Center is poised to close its doors at the end of the month in a deal that is expected to be announced today.

"This is a long time coming. It never made sense to keep open an outdated arena that is less than 10 miles away from the City of Newark and the Prudential Center," North Ward councilman Anibal Ramos said in a statement.

"I commend the governor's decision and I believe it will certainly increase the number of events at the Rock and serve as a greater catalyst for economic development in our downtown district."

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said that his enthusiasm for the additional programming that will be coming to the Prudential Center is tempered with the knowledge that an "iconic" entertainment center in New Jersey is closing.

“The closing of the IZOD Center at the end of this month will represent an opportunity for Newark to shine in a brighter light, as the many entertainment programs scheduled for that facility will come to our world-class Prudential Center in our downtown," he said in a statement.

“We look forward to welcoming greater numbers of visitors to these and other events at Prudential Center, where they will enjoy quality entertainment in a world-class arena and City."

The agreement that the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority — which oversees the Meadowlands Sports Complex for Gov. Chris Christie's administration — has reached with the Prudential Center grants the Newark arena hosting rights to the Izod Center's events calendar, according to a source familiar with the agreement who asked not to be identified because the source was not authorized to publicly discuss it.

East Ward councilman Augusto Amador said in a statement that the move could bring more people to Newark.

"I welcome this decision because the increase in programming at the Prudential arena will make it a more viable venue for people to come to Newark more often and will help make Newark the center of the cultural and sports activity in the entire state," he said.

At-large councilwoman and council president Mildred Crump said in an interview she is excited because the move will bring more traffic to the state's largest city.

"It's going to expose more people to the real Newark not the Newark that they read about in the paper," she said.

Crump added the city will likely boost security and clean-up efforts in the area to handle the increased programming.

But the decision has already sparked criticism from lawmakers outside of Newark.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) said she plans to attend today's meeting of the board of The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority when it is expected to vote to close the 18,000-seat arena.

"This is government at its worst," Weinberg told NJ Advance Media. "I'm going get an attorney to sue them to stop it."

 

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