Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Devils' move to Newark

Does the NHL have another white — or in this case, black and red — elephant coming?

With buildings in Chicago and St. Louis already playing to non-existent crowds, New York Times columnist Vincent Mallozzi says the New Jersey Devils' move from East Rutherford to a new rink in Newark in 2006-07 is bound to fail:
While the words "If you build it, they will come" once inspired an Iowa corn farmer to create his own field of dreams, these — "If you build it, who will come?" — should have inspired Newark's mayor, Sharpe James, and Devils officials to toss their blueprints under the wheels of the first passing Zamboni.

Despite winning 3 Stanley Cups in the last 11 seasons, the Devils have the misfortune of possessing one of the most disloyal fan bases in the history of sports. Are these same fair-weather Meadowlanders who regularly left thousands of seats empty during the best of Stanley Cup times now going to drive — at night — to a more-menacing area to storm the gates of their new palace?

At the other end of the move, how many new fans will the Devils find in Newark, a predominantly black and Hispanic city that has no cultural or ethnic ties to a game in which just about everything is white except for the puck and a few puffy eyes?
I'll have to defer to the Americans in the crowd here — I've never been to New Jersey — but it's an ominous message to be sure.

UPDATE For some perspective to those who don't know the area, the move will mean the Devils' new rink will be about 10-11 miles from its current location.


At 8:20 p.m., April 30, 2006, Anonymous Karina said...

Well, Newark is accessible by public transit, while the Meadowlands was in the middle of nowhere and required a car.

Who knows, maybe that simple change in transportation could make it easier for fans to get there - and, you can get from Manhattan to Newark on transit.

At 9:06 p.m., April 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I was Afircan American or Spanish I would consider this a racist article. It's clear that this writer does not go to many Devils games in New Jersey. The Devils ahve a nice Spanish following due to it's an exciting game, great team but also Scott Gomez. In fact I am amazed at how many ethnic groupd already attend Devils games. Unfortunately, African American people still will not come to the games. Now there are alot of African American people who go to hockey games, especially Toronto and Carolina. However, I am sick and tired of people saying Hockey does not appeal to all ethnic groups. In fact, Hockey is the most ethnic sport with so many countires represnted by great players. However, "Corporate America" shys away because the NHL will not kiss the collective butts of the African American Community to come out to games. You can go to a hockey game and see many players from all ethnic and national backgrounds. This is a racsist article. Hockey is a game for everyone to love, share and enjoy.

The Devils will have just as big of crowds in the new arena as the old arena. At Devils games the middle and upper tiers are filled all the time.

I am a long time Devils fan in Philadelphia and I am THRILLED and ELATED they are moving closer. Now because of the public transportation I can now become a Devils season ticket holder. More of my friends in Philly whom are Devils fans are happy that the move is happening because they can go to more games as well. The Devils fans at the CAA will come to Newark because they love their Devils and it's only a 20-25 minute drive from the CAA.

This move will be great for the team and now they can make all of NJ their home.

James Mirtle pretty much said in his article, "why do spanish abd balcks care about a white sport." THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANT. I am offended by this comment. Want to be offended? Basketball and Football predominantly are African American sports and it's rare that you hear a hockey player being arrested. Unlike the two previous sports I mentioned. Now, by saying something like that..I feel stupid because that is labeling "all people unfarily." Well that is what Mr. Mirtle did. He is a disgrace.

Finally, Mr. Mirtle he did not do his research. People in Chicago love their Blackhawks, however the owner and the way his fmaily has handled the team for years has hurt the city's fan base. Here is an owner who refuses to put home games on television if the game is not a sell out. He forces people to spend $90 a ticket. THAT is why people are not coming out to see the Blackhawks.


GO DEVILS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Phila, PA

At 9:34 p.m., April 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Newark arena is, by far, the best thing for the Devils. The worst part of Continental Airlines Arena (CAA) is the traffic. I've been to tons of games at CAA and a handful of games at MSG and I can definately say that it was much easier to take the PATH train from NJ to NY and walk a block to MSG than it is to drive to CAA, pay $10 for parking and be stuck in traffic on the way out.

The Devils deserve a place that they can truely call home. I am willing to bet that attendence will be up in the new arena. Sure, maybe we won't sell out half our games like Montreal (and no one is saying we will) but to be able to take mass transit to a game is great.

The man (and I use that term loosely) who wrote this article is nothing but another rangers fan looking for a way to bash the Devils. You can say all you want about our "parking lot celebrations" but how many parades have the rangers had down broadway in the last 50 years? one.

At 9:51 p.m., April 30, 2006, Anonymous James Vander Woude said...


Good response. One point: James Mirtle didn't write that article. Some dude named Vincent Mallozzi, a columnist for the New York Times, wrote it. Look at the page again. It's clear.

At 9:56 p.m., April 30, 2006, Anonymous jon said...

Indeed, research is a beautiful thing. However, as is the case with mose academic and journalist ventures, it begins with a careful reading of the material in question. Perhaps you should try it, Al.

At 9:57 p.m., April 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many reasons for why they don't fill their stadium, however I believe that the most probable cause is their ticket prices. Their average ticket price is second in the NHL at around $54.

I doubt that the team is in that much trouble if they keep their prices that high. They've probably found that a high price with a low attendance is more profitable than a lower price with more fans at each game.

At 11:25 p.m., April 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, as a NY based Flyer fan who spent seven years in Chicago, I would like to respond to Al:

(1) Chicago talks a big game about being a blue collar, support them ever more town, and are certainly better than the average NY, SF or LA fan in that regard. But the destruction of the 'Hawks fan base can't be put soley on Wirtz or the new arena. The city changed gradually and that overlapped with terrible, terrible management. The bottom line is some of the old Chicago Stadium faithful left because of real disgust with the mismangement, some of it was priced out of the United center or moved away but some of them were just like the Bulls fans who all swore they were there before Jordan and would be there long after...well, four years after Jordan the local bars were honoring my requests to put on a Flyers-Rangers game over the Bulls because nobody was watching the latter....

(2) If you live in Philadelphia and think that any mention of the lack of appeal of hockey to hispanics and blacks is racist, you are insane. Hockey in the northeast has, like it or not, a hardcore working class white ethnic base. Some of the guys who grew up watching Clarke and Parent when they were union contractors now have kids who are currency traders but at least the Flyer and Ranger faithful is pretty homogenous at the end of the day. Its not that outsiders aren't welcome, its just that its very hard to make an alien sport watched by other people which has very few black and hispanic faces attractive to those groups. They don't show up because its not an enticing proposition to deop big bucks on a game where you have few points of contact. But prep school and Ivy league hockey aside, I don't see many WASPs at MSG or at the Flyers. The fan base evolved a certain way. Can the Newark Devils market themselves to a new group of fans? Possibly, if they drop the ticket prices for certain games or seats and advertise like hell in the right media. I, for one, would welcome it. Although I would miss the fact that some games in the swamp felt like home games -- God help us if these guys actually develop a fan base.

(3) Devils fan in Philly? I simply don't believe it. What part of Patterson do you live in? We have enough trouble with Cowboys fans, so please leave now.

At 1:36 p.m., May 01, 2006, Blogger alyosha mcbain said...

New Jersey does not support its pro teams. Both the Nets and the Devils moved into the area thinking they were coming to a burgeoning market, but instead have met with disinterest. Moving the Devils to Newark is going to be a colossal failure--New Jersey is the problem here, not the location of the Devils at the Meadowlands.

For all those comments about public transit, I would like to remind everyone that the bus to East Rutherford is efficient, inexpensive, and runs frequently on nights where games are played. The Devils haven't helped themselves either--Lamoriello does not care at all about his team's fan base, and for all of his ability to run and organize a hockey team he has little interest in the area of increasing his team's profile.

Newark's demographics do not bode well for the Devils' future either. This statement is not racist, simply true. The fans in the stands in the Meadowlands certainly seem to come from a white suburban demographic, and the extra travel involved in going to a city where a car's safety cannot be guaranteed will have a serious impact on fan attendance.

When Lamoriello ran the whole Meadowlands sports complex he was often accused of being clueless in his dealings with non-hockey affairs. It seems to me that he and the Devils are taking a huge risk when all they need to do is actively market their team and make them a little more affordable at the ticket office. Supposedly, excellence breeds admirers. The fact that this has never occurred in New Jersey for the Devils is the main reason why their fans are such bitter and crabby Ranger haters--they see a team (despite a terrible lack of recent success) that has a good and profitable relationship with its own fans. The end result is bizarre--a team that has effortlessly triumphed over its local rivals to dominate their sport is outdrawn and loved less than a team that has been driven into the ground by the lazy front office work of Neil Smith and Glen Sather. Irony's a bitch, ain't it?

At 12:56 a.m., May 02, 2006, Blogger jamestobrien said...

Growing up in New Jersey, I can wholeheartedly agree with the article - Newark is a VERY, VERY menacing place.

In fact, when people bring up trips to New Jersey, I squirm when they say that they passed through Newark.

But hey, at least it has a really terrible airport!

At 9:45 a.m., July 03, 2007, Blogger Paul said...

As a recently relocated Philadelphian to North Jersey ... and lifetime Flyers fan ... I can say without doubt that I will be attending the Devils / FLYERS games ...and many of my buddies .... MANY FLYERS FANS ... will join me since the trek up the NJ turnpike to Newark is just that much closer than E. Rutherford.

Take into account that a lot of tickets might be available because the Hobknobbing Bluebloods from Ho-Ho-KUs won't go 'slumming' into Newark ... and that means decent seats available for Flyers fans to come up - or Rangers fans to come over, who can't get tix at MSG.

Where I am located in Hudson County is about halfway between the former arena and the new one so the key for me will be the fact that there is more public tranit into Newark (the PATH train and buses) than E. Rutherford.

But I never understood just who ARE the Devils fanbase? Anyone south of Toms River (The divide between whether you are getting NY or Philly TV stations) is a Flyers fan.

And anyone north of that over the age of 40 is a Rangers fan.

So they'll lose all the Thurton Howell the III types from Ho-Ho-Kus ...big deal.

Lets Go Flyers!

At 10:53 p.m., August 03, 2007, Blogger Tim said...

The fact that it's accessible by public trans from Manhattan means that now instead of never selling out, the Devils will sell out on days they're hosting the Rangers.w


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