Friday, October 26, 2007

NJ's Own Bon Jovi Opens New Prudential Center in Newark

New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi opened the Prudential Center in Newark with the first of the band's 10 shows in the brand-new arena last night.

Tomorrow night, the NHL's New Jersey Devils will play their first game in their new permanent home. "The Rock," as the new arena is being called, will also be the home arena for the Seton Hall University basketball team (from nearby South Orange), and a team in the Major Indoor Soccer League.

For the Prudential Center, the first major sports arena built in the tri-state area in a quarter century, the Bon Jovi shows are giving a jump-start to the opening of the new center. The Prudential Center has a number of high-profile rock and pop concerts scheduled for its opening weeks, including Mary J. Blige, R.Kelly, the raised-from-the-dead Spice Girls, and two shows featuring the hottest concert ticket in the country, Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus.

The 10-night opening stand by Bon Jovi reminds me of a similar inauguration by a Jersey artist more than a quarter-century ago, when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played multiple nights to open the new Meadowlands Arena (now to be called Izod Arena, formerly Continental Airlines Arena, formerly Brendan Byrne Arena).

Is this the long-awaited revival of downtown Newark? It may just be, with the slate of sporting events and concerts bringing a diverse crowd to the City. The Performing Arts Center, which features mostly classical music brings in a specific type of audience, as does the Newark Bears minor-league baseball team.

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