Photo: Business Insider/Adam Fusfeld
When former Lehman Brothers executive Jeff Vanderbeek bought his favourite hockey team, the New Jersey Devils, in 2004 he wanted to make sure the team could afford to stay in the Garden State.Despite consistent on-ice success, the Devils struggled at the gate and rumours abounded that the team would relocate. No one wanted to come to the crumbling Meadowlands arena in the heart of Jersey’s swampland.
Vanderbeek toured dozens of NHL arenas and dropped more than $100 million to help fund a $375 million new arena in downtown Newark – just steps from the city’s Penn Station – that incorporated his favourite features. He jam-packed it with amenities to attract corporate sponsors and fan-friendly components to ensure all the state’s residents flocked to see Jersey’s only remaining professional franchise (the Nets have removed “New Jersey” from their team symbols).
“The Rock,” as it’s nicknamed, features 76 luxury suites, three private lounges with premium all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffets, a 350-seat restaurant, a practice facility, and some of the most unique seating options in any arena in America.
We spent last Wednesday experiencing the luxuries usually reserved for the Devils wealthiest supporters, eying the executive offices, and finding some amenities even the nosebleed fans can enjoy.
Here's the entrance, and at least from this vantage point, the rotunda actually resembles the devil's lair.
We walked in to the Belvedere Vodka Ice Lounge, reserved for fans seated in some of the arena's best seats
The bar has an ice theme and a sheet of ice (that's the blue light reflecting off it) going around the bar.
There's also the Fire Lounge, an identical bar across the arena. Unfortunately there's no ring of fire around it.
The best thing about the suites: three rows of seats between the lower and upper bowl that aren't divided from the rest of the stands like they are in many other arenas.
It's all slightly more luxurious than the experience afforded the average customer. Here's a nacho stand.
But even fans sitting in the last row can get access to the Acela Club, which has some pretty good amenities of its own, including a 500-bottle fine wine cabinet.
And here's a little secret: if you snag a seat on the ledge of the Acela Club you can sit here for the entire game. It's a lower bowl seat for the price of a last-row ticket and a nice dinner.
All fans get access to the Bud Light lounge before and after the game. It's also where MSG films the Devils studio shows.
You can even watch the team practice from some of the lounges, as the Prudential centre is one of just two hockey arenas in the country with a game and practice surface.
Here's the hockey operations office. We saw Lou Lamoriello walk by but he didn't want a photo taken.
Instead take a look at the Devils latest marketing campaign: Mission Control. The team selects fans who are avid social media users and maintain Devils online presence during games.
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