The owner of the Stone Pony is among a group of individuals determined to keep the famed Asbury Park, N.J., rock club in its original location, on the corner of Second and Ocean avenues, where it has

The owner of the Stone Pony is among a group of individuals determined to keep the famed Asbury Park, N.J., rock club in its original location, on the corner of Second and Ocean avenues, where it has stood since opening in 1974. Dominic Santana, who took over the club in 2000, was among those lending his voice yesterday (Jan. 10) to the "Save the Stone Pony" campaign, launched in reaction to a proposal to move the club to a new location. The long-blighted shore town is undertaking an ambitious and much-needed redevelopment.

"I will take the front line with you and fight to keep the Stone Pony right here," Santana said at a press conference/rally held the club. "There is no dollar value on an icon that means so much to America's rock'n'roll history. Read my lips. Hell no, we won't go. Over my dead body."

E Street Band guitarist Little Steven Van Zandt -- who along with his "Boss," Bruce Springsteen, honed his craft in the club that has presented local bands and international talent over the years -- also kicked in his support. "Like Convention Hall, the Berkeley Carteret Hotel, and the boardwalk, the Stone Pony has become an institution of Asbury Park," the "Sopranos" co-star said in a statement. "It has an important place in history and is a great source of pride for the state of New Jersey as well as being an international tourist attraction. Leave it where it is."

Although a longtime supporter of the Stone Pony, and the redevelopment of Asbury Park, Springsteen has remained publicly quiet on the issue. He did, however, make a point of singling out Santana and his work to revitalize the club during his December benefit holiday concert series a few blocks away at Convention Hall.

According to Larry Fishman, chief operating officer of Oceanfront Acquisitions, the firm in charge of the city's oceanfront redevelopment, no final decision on the proposal has been made and his company is willing to discuss keeping the Pony at its current site, according to the Asbury Park Press. At yesterday's event, city councilwoman Kate Mellina echoed that sentiment, saying the plan is continually evolving and being worked on with substantial input from the city.

For more information on the Save the Stone Pony campaign, or to sign the online petition, visit the movement's official Web site, or the official Stone Pony site.

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