The Izod Center as seen from a nearby parking garage
|Location||50 State RT 120, East Rutherford, New Jersey 07073|
|Opened||July 2, 1981|
|Owner||New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority|
|Operator||New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority|
|Construction cost||$85 million|
|Architect||Grad Partnership and Dilullo, Clauss, Ostroki & Partners|
|Former names|| Brendan Byrne Arena (1981–1996)|
Continental Airlines Arena (1996–2007)
|Tenants|| New Jersey Nets (National Basketball Association) (1981–2012)|
New Jersey Rockets (Major Indoor Soccer League (1978–1992)
|Capacity|| 20,049 (NBA Basketball)|
20,029 (NCAA Basketball)
The Izod Center (formerly Brendan Byrne Arena and Continental Airlines Arena) was a multi-purpose indoor arena in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States. Opened in 1981, it was one of the oldest arenas in the NBA and was home to the New Jersey Nets NBA basketball team until they moved to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The arena was formerly home to the New Jersey Devils NHL hockey team until 2007, when they moved to the Prudential Center in Newark. Official seating capacity, as of 2009, is 20,029 for college basketball, 20,049 for NBA games, and a maximum of 20,000 for concerts. The arena attracts spectators and fans from New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area. Because of the history of name changes, the arena is often referred to simply as the Meadowlands Arena. The arena was losing about $8 million per year when the management of the Prudential Center in Newark offered the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority $2 million to shutter the building for 2 years. It was quickly accepted and the arena closed in March of 2015. The Authority is debating whether to sell the facility or tear it down. The arena is next to the "American Dream Meadowlands" (Mall and Entertainment Complex). The new facility is scheduled to open in 2016. The location of the arena could be used as additional parking for the facility.
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.
On October 30, 1981, the New Jersey Nets, who had played their previous four seasons at the Louis Brown Athletic Center at Rutgers University, 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 under which the airline, with a hub at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport, would pay the NJSEA $29 million over 12 years.
The name change to Continental Airlines Arena also caused controversy in April of that year, when the arena hosted the NCAA Final Four. During the CBS coverage of the event, Continental signage was not shown on camera, and the arena was simply referred to as "The Meadowlands". CBS and the NCAA already had airline sponsors for the event before Continental's naming rights deal.
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 clothing company, to rename the arena Izod Center. The company will pay $1.4 million per annum for the first two years of the agreement, while the Nets are still tenants, which will drop 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.
The arena has primarily served as a sports venue in its history. The arena has been the home of the NBA's New Jersey Nets basketball franchise since 1981. 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 games, most recently on December 20, 2008. Izod Center uses two separate floors for NBA and NCAA basketball- a standard hardwood floor for Nets games 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 1940–52, 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 infamous 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.
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 Cups 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 Final and NBA Finals at the same time, the other four are Boston Garden, Madison Square Garden in New York, Wachovia Spectrum in Philadelphia and Chicago Stadium.
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