SBJ/May 21 - 27, 2007/This Weeks News

AEG hires exec to operate Prudential Center

AEG drove another dagger into the long-term future of Continental Airlines Arena by strategically hiring a veteran facility manager with strong ties to Feld Entertainment to operate Prudential Center.

The third-party firm selected Dale Adams as general manager for the New Jersey Devils’ arena in Newark, set to open in October. Adams most recently worked for SMG and opened the Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan in 2004.

Adams previously served about six years as director of North American tours for Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice. Feld has booked those events at Continental Airlines Arena since it opened at the Meadowlands in 1981.

The New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority owns and operates the 26-year-old arena and officials maintain it will remain open for business after Prudential Center opens and the New Jersey Nets leave for Barclays Center in Brooklyn by 2009 or 2010.

Seton Hall also announced it was leaving Continental Airlines Arena to play its men’s college basketball games at Prudential Center starting this fall.

Feld’s contracts at Continental Airlines Arena expire in 2012 and there is no escape clause, said Ron VanDeVeen, the facility’s senior vice president and general manager.

“That doesn’t stop Feld from playing Prudential Center,” VanDeVeen said.

“The bottom line is we’ll take anything we can get,” Adams said.

Without the Devils and Seton Hall, Continental Airlines Arena increased its circus and ice show dates from 37 this year to 56 in 2008, and VanDeVeen thinks the two arenas 11 miles apart can coexist in what he says is a growing market.

“It will be up to the state government,” he said. “Can it make an educated decision based on the real numbers?”

AEG, meanwhile, is aggressively positioning its new property in the country’s No. 1 market. “What’s going to define Prudential Center is its diversity of event programming,” said Nick Sakiewicz, president of AEG New York.

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