I know it's the playoffs, but I need to let out a rant here about something I saw in the front page of today's Star Ledger. It's very relevant to the Devils from a business, and a fan standpoint. Feel free to skip this if this isn't your sort of thing - it's comes from a more emotional and anecdotal standpoint than numbers and figures.
Let me use this space, at least, to let you know that the SBN Hockey Crew is complete. First, the Copper & Blue by Jonathan Willis is here for the Edmonton Oilers. No word as to whether Willis is a Sugar fan, but he doesn't seem to be a current fan of Kevin Lowe. Second. there's The Cannon by Andy Newman, Mike McLean, and Clint - your source for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Definitely check them out as they have made the playoffs for the first time (The Blue Jackets, not Andy, Mike, and Clint - though I could be wrong).
And since I'm using this space for promotion, let me promote that I wrote a preview in 5 questions for Cycle Like the Sedins that summed up what I've talked about already. It went up yesterday, but I still stand by what I say. James made a separate mini-blog for the series, so go check that out for my thoughts and the thoughts of Ashley of the Life and Times of a Caniac.
One of the big reasons why I loved the decision to move the Devils in what would become the Prudential Center was the fact that the Devils owners themselves - a group led by Jeff Vanderbeek - would run the building. They would own it, they would profit from it, and they would control it. They would not be treated as afterthoughts in their home arena anymore. And you see that right away at the Rock.
In the few games I went to the Continental Airlines Arena (now it's the Izod Center), I was definitely not impressed with how difficult it was to get there, to park there, and the general staff. While I don't want to slag an entire workforce, there are some good, honest, and reasonable people who worked there; but it was the rude, power-hungry, unaware, and just plain dumb personnel stuck out the most. I learned that the CAA, being at the Meadowlands, was run by the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority. Needless to say, I did not develop a favorable opinion of the state government-run group.
And in recent years, I became a supporter for Red Bull NY (This Saturday, maybe they'll score their first legit goal this season! Get your tickets today!). You would think that a crowd of 14,000 - 17,000 for a soccer game at Giants Stadium (capacity 80,242) during its offseason wouldn't be too much to handle. Yet, the Yellow Jackets who run the parking lots - just the parking lots - have never ceased to amaze me with their hardheadedness. The stories I hear from my fellow RBNY fans are simply astounding! Even if you come 3+ hours early to tailgate, you could circle all of Giants Stadium looking for a way to get into the vast, empty parking lots. Only either the gates aren't open, the Yellow Jacket tells you to explitive off when a gate is open, another one tries to sympathize and suggest parking elsewhere, and others just don't seem to notice. That's just the parking, the ushers and security are also a grab bag of "greatness." If you need to know more, just ask the people in RBN or ESC and they'll gladly tell you all the proof you need - and how glad they are moving to Harrison next season. Or ask someone who went to a lot of games at the CAA for the Devils, the Nets, or the Seton Hall Pirates.
Needless to say, I have very little faith in the NJSEA running anything competently. The Devils got their own place. The Pirates of Seton Hall moved to the Rock as well. The Red Bulls are building their own stadium in Harrison and will start playing there next season. The Nets are looking to go to Brooklyn if Bruce Ratner has his way. Basically, in a few years, you'll see the organization only there for the Giants and Jets for a few months, a racetrack, and, I guess, praying Xanadu is finished and is actually successful. I'd say this is a pretty large indictment of what the tenets thought of and/or think about the NJSEA. To me, and probably to tens of thousands of others, I am glad I will not have to directly deal with anyone in the NJSEA anymore to enjoy a sporting event or some other entertainment.
The two sides have been talking behind the scenes about a possible joint agreement that would give the sports authority responsibility for the day-to-day running of the new arena in Newark, executives on both sides said yesterday.
Such an agreement would put the state authority in charge of the operational management of the Prudential Center, now handled by AEG, a major sports, concert and entertainment promoter.
Why, why, why, why, why, why, WHY would this be a good idea? These teams and other ventures are leaving the Meadowlands. Of course, the NJSEA would love this deal, it keeps the organization relevant and gets them money. The article states it would allow both venues
How in the world does Vanderbeek and the Devils' owners benefit? Even with this "synergy" it's still the Izod Center versus the Rock for concerts and shows. What is to stop the NJSEA will weasel it's way and ensure the most lucrative deals go to the cement swamp that are the Meadowlands while the Rock gets whatever else. The NJSEA needs people to keep going to the Meadowlands to justify their existence and so they'll keep angling for the top acts and the bigger shows regardless of any deal.
How will an organization that seemingly makes "good enough for government work and to hell with everyone else and common sense" it's working motto benefit us as fans? After going to over 80 games at the Rock, AEG and their group has not done a bad job from what I can tell. The ushers are serious about what they do without being overbearing. Security does their job without a power-complex. The vendors do their thing well. From what I stated earlier, I have no faith in the NJSEA doing as good as job or even better. From my experiences, they'll be more likely to hurt the fans' experience at these games. How is that supposed to help profits?
The last part of the article confuses me further with this quote from Vanderbeek:
Vanderbeek also confirmed there had been discussions with Goldberg.
"Carl's a friend and we are trying to find a way to work together to eliminate the excess profitability that the promoters and acts are making by pitting the two arenas in north Jersey against each other," he said. "If we are successful, we will be able to sell less expensive tickets to our patrons."
Then what was the whole point of building and moving the Devils to the Rock to begin with! I don't get this at all! The Prudential Center is newer, it's cleaner, it's instantly more accessible with access by NJ Transit, it's actually surrounded by buildings in a city instead of parking lots and the NJ Turnpike, and it's a great place for hockey games and concerts (seriously, the acoustics are far superior than the giant warehouse that is the Izod Center). The only thing the Izod Center has is that it's been around longer and it holds more people - other than that, I don't see why the Rock shouldn't compete. It could very well win!
And this notion of selling less expensive tickets. Uh, Jeff, let me hit you with an inconvienent fact: you lowered the Devils ticket prices for 2009-10 for a majority of the Rock without any deal with the NJSEA! There's nothing stopping you from doing this elsewhere! Again, it could be another weapon against the Rock to compete; but alas, it seems the owners don't want to do this.
I can take solace now that this is a deal that's being negotiated. However, given that it got the front page headline on today's Star Ledger, it's definitely not an implausible deal. Here's to hoping I am blowing this way out of proportion and jumping to conclusions and that this deal falls through. But if one is made and the NJSEA is running the Rock, the following old cliche is quite cautionary: if you lie down with dogs, you'll eventually end up with fleas.