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Zimbalist: "not clear" that Newark arena will make it

Can the arena in the Meadowlands--formerly the Continental Airlines Arena, now the Izod Center--survive in a market with the new Prudential Center in Newark (right), Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, and the planned Atlantic Yards arena?

(Photo from New York Times)

Opinions differ, according to those quoted in a 10/1/07 NJBIZ article headlined The Battle of the Arenas. One skeptic is Smith College sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, who pointed out that each facility must compete for corporate sponsorships and sales of premium seats.

The article states:
“All of those things will be difficult,” says Zimbalist. “It’s not 100 percent clear that the Meadowlands will stay in business, and it’s not clear to me that the Newark Arena will make it.”

Certainly Newark's new Prudential Center, with only one major sports team rather than two as a main tenant, and in a city carrying a rep for crime, will face challenges, especially if the Meadowlands remains as competition for concerts. If the latter arena closes, well, New Jersey needs a major venue. Still, the Pru is spiffy, near transit, and went through an apparently successful opening yesterday.

Wishing it away?

NJBIZ should've pointed out that Zimbalist is hardly a neutral observer when it comes to Newark's arena.

As a paid consultant to Forest City Ratner, Zimbalist produced a rosy and misleading report on potential Atlantic Yards revenues. In it, he stated:
The Nets project that the arena will not host an NHL team and that it will host 226 events during the year (assuming the eventual closing of CAA, no new arena in Newark, no NHL and no minor league hockey events at the Atlantic Yards arena).

But a Newark arena was on its way. Now it's here, an inconvenient fact that bollixes up his projections regarding Atlantic Yards arena revenues, just as costs for policing the Brooklyn arena would well exceed the zero-based budget Zimbalist posited. It's not clear that the Atlantic Yards arena "will make it," either, because it doesn't even exist yet. Maybe it's easier to wish Newark away.