SBJ/20090907/Facilities

PNC Bank part of new retail lineup at Prudential Center

PNC is opening a small bank inside Prudential Center, one of the first signs of commercial development tied to the NHL arena in Newark, N.J.

The financial services firm, a Devils founding partner since the arena opened in October 2007, sponsors the PNC Bank Tower on the northeast corner where 80 percent of hockey fans enter the facility. The new bank, with street access, opens Sept. 28 next to that entrance.

PNC exercised an option in its original deal to open a location inside Prudential Center, said Michael Brundage, the bank’s executive vice president for retail in northern New Jersey and northeast Pennsylvania.

Per those terms with the Devils, PNC pays rent to the team in exchange for operating the bank through September 2012, with two one-year options.

The 1,800-square-foot space, built in a storage area reserved for the bank, will have six full-time PNC employees. They will focus on one-on-one communication with arena workers and area residents interested in opening and managing new accounts, Brundage said.

In addition to a PNC Bank location, the Brick
City Coffee Co. is among three other
new businesses at the arena.

A full-service PNC Bank is within three blocks of Prudential Center for account holders wishing to conduct other business, he said.

The arena’s bank will be open during regular business hours Monday through Friday. As of last week, PNC was still determining hours of operation on game days, but the branch will not be open on weekends, Brundage said.

PNC officials are confident the new branch will thrive as the Devils and city officials continue to develop property surrounding the arena.

“The whole area is slated for major improvements in the next several years,” Brundage said.

The Devils have found other private operators to run three new businesses at the arena: a sports bar on the north side called The Penalty Box, plus a “burger and beer joint” and the Brick City Coffee Co. on the arena’s south side underneath a parking deck, said Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek. The coffee shop opens next week, the burger-and-beer eatery around Thanksgiving and The Penalty Box in January.

PNC Park in Pittsburgh, where PNC holds the stadium’s naming rights, has a bank inside that facility.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Sports food consultant John Sergi plans to take a class of 40 students from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration to a Mets game at Citi Field on Thursday to see firsthand Aramark’s operation at the new ballpark.

Sergi earned a master’s degree in hospitality from Cornell and will be a guest lecturer Sept. 24 at the school, as he has done on previous occasions.

It’s part of Sergi’s effort to start a new two-credit course at Cornell focusing on strategic studies of food in sports, a slice of facility operations he says could be more closely examined in sports management curriculums. “There is [little] formal education in that end of food service,” Sergi said.

Learning the finer points of concessions and catering deals could not come at a more critical time in the industry, when food providers are facing increased pressure to reduce prices and develop more value, he said.

“We need to come together with ownership,” Sergi said. “There is a failure to understand in the context of a deal that there is a better way of doing business than giving 52 percent of hot dog sales to the team.”

Sergi continues to talk with Cornell officials for developing a class that begins in the 2010-11 school year, and said he has the support of Marc Bruno, Aramark Sports and Entertainment’s president of arenas and stadiums and a fellow Cornell graduate.

ON TARGET: Delaware North Sportservice’s Pete Spike moved from one AL Central market to another. Spike, most recently general manager at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, assumes the same role at Target Field, the Twins’ new home opening in April.

Joey Nigro, formerly with Aramark, replaced Spike at the White Sox park.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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