Talking Red

This Day in Devils History: The Prudential Center Opens

Posted in on by EJ Fagan

On October 25th, 2012, the Prudential Center opened. While the arena had held a soft opening with a concert for the Newark Boys Choir a week earlier, the official ribbon cutting came on the 25th. The Rock was opened in a way that only the great state of New Jersey could – with a killer concert (one of a series of ten) from Bon Jovi. Short of The Boss paying a visit, you couldn’t think of a better kick off.

The Devils would play their first home game two days later, on the 27th, against the Ottawa Senators. They would lose 4-1. Chris Neil scored the Prudential Center’s first goal, and Martin Gerber registered its first win. Brian Gionta scored the only goal in the New Jersey loss.

Its amazing to think that many Devils fans have no memory of the days before the Prudential Center. The Continental Airlines Arena was not a great place to watch a hockey game. Sure, it was (mostly) clean and could sell 19,040 seats, but that was about all the positive. CAA’s ceiling muffled any sound from the noise, was isolated in the middle of a giant parking lot in the middle of a giant swamp, and had none of the fun trappings of a modern arena.

The shift to a beautiful, brand-new arena was a bit surreal. I remember that game against Ottawa. You wanted to spend hours walking around staring at all of the beautiful things on the wall and wide open spaces, instead of bland, enclosed concrete walls. I also remember every food option in the concourse being horribly backed up, but that’s to be expected in a new arena.

Its also worth remembering how different Newark was back then. A lot of people, myself included, had no reason ever to visit downtown Newark other than to use the train station. The Prudential Center helped accelerate the transformation of downtown Newark from a dilapidated, broken city to a growing urban center.

And one last thought: I love parades in parking lots, but the last thing that the Prudential Center needs in order to be fully christened as the Devil’s true home is a visit from the Stanley Cup, and a real parade in a real city.