Over the Summer, diehard Devils fan, Battle of NY blogger, and Kukla’s Korner “broadcast contributor” Steve Lepore will chronicle his trips to the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ during it’s ongoing construction, on target for a grande opening on October 25th (for a Bon Jovi Concert) and a Devils opening October 27th (against the Senators).
By Steve Lepore
Sure, it can be a daunting place to visit. Once in a while, you’ll be propositioned by a man selling cheap roses for Valentine’s Day (even though it’s the middle of July) and the supposed “Newark Boys & Girls Clubs” selling M & M’s. But there’s something that’s a little lost in all the perception and the supposed “evil” that comes out of New Jersey’s second most dangerous city (#1 is Camden, which is basically a suburb of Philly, but no one complains about Flyers games being in a bad neighborhood).
Newark has some stunningly beautiful scenery. The architechture of the buildings, many constructed in the 1960s and 70s, fits the “Brick City” moniker Newark has embraced. The arena will be no different, and add to a beautiful Newark skyline that includes the Prudential building and the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, deemed it’s name by John Paul II in a late 90’s visit that was attended by President Clinton. The perception of Newark as a city of renissance is long gone, but the business and the architechture they started back then are still here.
That’s why, as I headed down toward the Prudential Center on the corner of Broad and Market (Broad Street Bullies? Cam Janssen will have something to say about the moniker) I realized: boy, this place could be something. This is coming from someone who worked for New Jersey’s largets city’s other professional sports franchise: The Newark Bears. Okay, they’re sort of a “minor league” team. But they’re independent of the majors, so who’s to say if their pros or not. What I’m trying to say is that Newark could become a sports town, united by Jeff Vanderbeek’s vision of a sports and entertainment destination for everyone. Remember, the Devils are coming here to be the anchor tenant, but there’s also Seton Hall hoops - in a location much closer to the West Orange main campus than the Meadowlands is - and a Major Indoor Soccer League franchise, while Vanderbeek claims “the usual suspects” (AFL, NLL, etc.) are also in talks to bring clubs here. Hopefully, the Devils are building something.
So after a short visit, and some pictures (I didn’t get as close as these guys, but I tried) I headed home. As I drove back to my suburban home, I saw a huge billboard on the way. It was in big, bold, black letters on a white background and said:
“Stop the Newark Killings! From the Newark Teachers Union.”
It reminded me that there’s a long way to go. In both promoting the sport in the city, and in the teacher’s union’s long fight with the city itself.
But it’ll be a journey that Devils fans will no doubt enjoy.