NEWARK-Sports and entertainment giant AEG has signed an agreement to manage the new arena rising in this city’s Downtown as the new home for the New Jersey Devils NHL team. As reported by, the arena now has an official name, Prudential Center, in the wake of the financial giant’s buying of the naming rights. The $375-million facility is slated to open in October.”This partnership with AEG is another step in our objective to make Prudential Center one of the premier and most utilized venues in the country,” says Jeffrey Vanderbeek, president and chairman of Devils Arena Entertainment, the affiliate of the Devils that’s responsible for the leasing, operation and maintenance of the facility. “AEG’s track record of successfully operating venues will provide a level of entertainment that takes advantage of the tremendous features of Prudential Center.” Vanderbeek is also the primary owner of the hockey club.

The deal, the details of which were not released, creates an interesting synergy between the new arena and the new Red Bull Park soccer stadium, a 25,000-seat venue rising just across the river in Harrison. AEG formerly owned the stadium’s primary tenant, an MLS soccer team, before selling the franchise formerly known as the MetroStars to Austrian soft drink maker Red Bull two years ago. The team was renamed the Red Bulls after the sale, and AEG stayed on the scene on as co-owner and manager of the stadium, so it will effectively handle the booking of both the arena and the stadium simultaneously.

“The Prudential Center, a state-of-the-art indoor facility, will complement our outdoor stadium project at Red Bull Park,” says Nick Sakiewicz, president of AEG New York/New Jersey. “Each venue will give us a great opportunity too showcase sports and live entertainment programming.”

“The Northern New Jersey market traditionally supports and appreciates great concerts and popular shows,” says Debra Rathwell, SVP of AEG Live, the company’s division that handles the entertainment bookings. “Prudential Center will be one venue that every tour will route through, as New Jersey has always been considered an important booking for national tours.”

Prudential Center will seat 17,625 for hockey games, 18,500 for basketball games and 19,500 for concerts. The facility will also feature a 4,800-sf exterior LED screen, plus 76 luxury suites and 2,200 club seats. The soccer stadium, meanwhile, will follow the arena by less than a year, opening in time for the 2008 season. Both teams are moving to the new venues from the Meadowlands, the Devils vacating Continental Airlines Arena and the Red Bulls departing Giants Stadium.

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