EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — A struggling sports arena that was home to the New Jersey Devils and the New Jersey Nets and was a frequent haunt of rocker Bruce Springsteen is set to close.
New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority officials voted 10-2 on Thursday to close the Izod Center at the Meadowlands sports complex by the end of the month.
The decision was criticized by some lawmakers, who said it came with little warning. The Democratic speaker of the state Assembly, Vincent Prieto, said closing the East Rutherford arena shows "a disappointing lack of creative vision" and will hurt workers and the local economy.
But the decision was praised by others, including Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, who called the arena an "antiquated facility that has been losing millions and millions of dollars annually." DiVincenzo's county includes Newark, home to the Prudential Center arena, where the NHL's Devils moved in 2007.
The 18,000-seat arena opened in 1981 and was known as the Brendan Byrne Arena, after the former governor, and the Continental Airlines Arena before Izod acquired naming rights in 2007. Besides being home to the Devils and the NBA's Nets, the arena once hosted the NCAA basketball Final Four. Springsteen played numerous shows there, including six sold-out dates to open it.
As recently as 2011, the arena sold more tickets to concerts and family shows than the Prudential Center. But in recent years the Devils moved to Newark, the Nets moved to the Barclays Center in New York City and became the Brooklyn Nets and those venues have grabbed more and more of the marquee shows.
The closing of the Izod arena signals another step in the makeover of the Meadowlands complex. In recent years the state sports authority has sold off its interest in the Meadowlands Racetrack and seen Giants Stadium torn down and replaced by MetLife Stadium, built and owned by the New York Giants and the New York Jets.
In addition, a multibillion-dollar megamall and entertainment center, American Dream, is being constructed next to the Izod site, and local business leaders produced a proposal last year for the Meadowlands to host a convention center and casino if lawmakers approve gambling outside Atlantic City.