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.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.
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?
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.