The Izod Center at the Meadowlands complex in East Rutherford, N.J., could well become a casualty of new arenas in its region even sooner than suspected, if the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority board today approves a plan submitted by N.J. Governor Chris Christie's administration to shutter the 18,000-seat arena in March.
Once the pride of New Jersey, the 34-year-old arena has found it tough to compete against new buildings like the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., and Barclays Center in Brooklyn, as well as the loss of prime tenants as the Devils of the N.H.L., now in Newark, the NBA's New Jersey Nets, now known as the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
Long a favored venue of local hero Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band, the Izod Center for years was the Jersey play for most all major tours, and has certainly seen its glory days. Bruce himself put up nearly $40 million in Boxscores at Izod (in addition to $75 million at Giants Stadium, part of the Meadowlands complex, topped by $38.7 million from 10 sellouts in 2003) since 1992, with his biggest run at the arena being his reunion tour with the E Streeters ($19 million from 15 sellouts in the summer of 1999).
Also among the highest Boxscores at Izod are Billy Joel and Elton John in 2002 ($6.2 million), The Eagles in 2005 ($5 million), Madonna in 2004 ($4.4 million), Simon & Garfunkel in 2003 ($4.4 million), Bon Jovi in 2005 ($3.9 million), U2 in 2005 ($38 million), and Roger Waters in 2010 ($3.4 million).
But the Prudential Center, which opened in the fall of 2007, has since seen the big tours come its way, like Bon Jovi opening the arena in 2007 ($16.6 million), Celine Dion in 2008 ($3.6 million), Britney Spears in 2009 ($3.9 million), the Rolling Stones' 50 & Counting tour in 2012 ($14.3 million), Taylor Swift in 2013 ($3.6 million), and Katy Perry last year ($3.4 million). And then came Barclays Center in the fall of 2013, which had an immediate impact on the marketplace, grossing $83.5 million in its first full year of operation.
Billboard Boxscore reports show the impact the increased competition from newer buildings has had on Izod. The East Rutherford arena reported $135 million across 331 shows in 2005-2009, a number that dropped to less than $52 million over 179 shows in the next five years. Prudential Center has reported nearly $200 million in Boxscores since it opened in 2007, while Izod has reported $150 million over the same period. In just three years, Barclays Center has churned $182 million in Boxscores.
In 2014 -- Madison Square Garden's first year since its renovation -- the Garden crushed them all, reporting $102.6 million, versus $60 million for Barclays, $25.5 million for Prudential Center, and $18.4 million for Izod.
Though they mean plenty to promoters, box office grosses aren't truly what drives revenue for arenas, which only share in that revenue if they're partnered in promoting the show. More important to the building is the number of fans passing through the turnstiles, which generate revenues from parking, concessions, facility fees, merchandise, sponsorship rates, and numerous other ancillaries. In 2014, attendance to 66 concerts and non-sports events at Izod came in at a respectable 502,662, superior to the 370,650 events managed by Prudential Center (not included are the hockey numbers that Izod doesn't have, which would greatly increase that attendance figure at Prudential Center). But even with the Izod Center's old NBA team, and other sports events, taking up lots of dates, Barclays still hosted 124 events that drew 842,901. And the Garden topped them all -- and every other arena in America -- with 1 million in attendance to 77 events.