Izod Center Closes Doors After 34 Years
The facility opened on July 2, 1981 in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, NJ.
Over the last 34 years the Izod Center has hosted numerous sports and entertainment events, including three Stanley Cup Finals, two NBA Finals, one NBA All Star Game, one NHL All Star Game and one NCAA Final Four, but on Sunday night March 22, the venue closed its doors final time following the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baily’s performance of “Circus Xtreme.”
The facility opened on July 2, 1981 in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, NJ. Originally named Brendan Bryne Arena, after the former Governor of New Jersey. In 1996, it was renamed Continental Airlines Arena after the airline purchased the naming rights. In 2007, Phillips-Van Heusen purchased the naming rights, rebranding the venue with its current name of the Izod Center.
New Jersey rocker, Bruce Springsteen, opened the facility with six sold out concerts. Following the Springsteen concerts the venue hosted an ice show before the New Jersey Nets officially moved into their new home, followed by the New Jersey Devils one year later.
The Nets played their first game in the venue on October 30, 1981 losing to their cross river rivals the New York Knicks 103-99. The Devils made their home debut in the Meadowlands almost a year later, on October 5, 1982 settling for a 3-3 tie against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On January 31, 1982 the National Basketball Association held the NBA All Star Game in the Meadowlands and exactly two years later on January 31, 1984, the arena hosted the National Hockey League All Star Game. In 1996, the arena hosted the NCAA Final Four, in what would become the final one to be played in a traditional arena setting.
The Devils would play their final game at the Meadowlands, before moving to the Prudential Center, in Newark, NJ, on May 5, 2007, falling to the Ottawa Senators, 3-2 in game five of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Devils forward Scott Gomez would register the final goal in the building. On April 12, 2010, the Nets played their final game at the Izod Center falling to the Charlotte Bobcats 105-95, with Terrance Williams scoring the final basket.
The arena has mainly served as a sports venue while hosting many concerts. The Seton Hall University Pirates Men’s Basketball team called the arena home from 1985 to 2007. The Fordham University Rams have used the facility as a secondary home. College basketball first arrived at the arena in 1984 with the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The Metro Athletic Conference held their tournament in the Meadowlands from 1982-1989 and the 1986 Atlantic Ten Conference was held there.
The Meadowlands Arena has hosted the Semi-Finals and Finals of the NCAA East Regionals 11 times. One of the memorable moments occurred on January 22, 1987 when the “334 Club” was created. After the state was hit with 20 inches of snow, Devils hosted had hosted the Calgary Flames in front of 334 fans that were able to make it to the arena. The Devils defeated the Flames that night 7-5.
Other teams that have called the arena home, include the New Jersey Rockets, of the Major Indoor Soccer League, the New Jersey Rockin Rollers, of Roller Hockey International, the New Jersey Red Dogs/Gladiators, of the Arena Football League, and two different National Lacrosse League teams, the New Jersey Saints (1987-1988) and the New Jersey Storm (2002-2003). The New York Cosmos also used the building to host indoor soccer games.
The Stanley Cup was played in the arena four times, (1995, 2000, 2001 & 2003) with the Devils clinching two of their three Cups, in front of the home crowd. The building hosted the NBA Finals twice, (2002 & 2003) with the Nets being swept by the Los Angeles Lakers then falling the next year in six games to the San Antonio Spurs. In 1997, the RHI’s Murphy Cup Championship was played there with the Rockin Rollers falling to the Anaheim Bullfrogs.
Of the five venues to host the Stanley Cup and the NBA Finals in the same year, the Izod Center is the most recent. Those other four venues include, Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium and the Spectrum in Philadelphia.
The arena was a popular site for concerts due to being designed with acoustics in mind and the fact the facility fee was lesser than competing venues. Springsteen remains one of the most popular acts with all of his sold out shows in the Meadowlands. Queen held their final New Jersey performance in August of 1982, the Rolling Stones played three consecutive shows in their 1981 North American Tour and Michael Jackson played three consecutive shows on his Bad World Tour in the arena. There have been many other big acts as well.
World Wrestling Entertainment, Disney on Ice, Ringling Brothers Circus have performed the shows at Izod Center on many occasions. Many high schools and colleges have used the arena for their graduation and commencement exercises. On September 22, 2011 American Idol even held auditions at the Izod Center.
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority decided to close the arena due to the fact that it was becoming a money losing operation. After the final performance of the circus on Sunday all future events scheduled for the Izod Center are being relocated to the Prudential Center.
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