SBJ/20101004/Facilities

Prudential Center adds club for Nets’ courtside-seat holders

A few upgrades are in the works at Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils, as officials prepare the arena to accommodate the New Jersey Nets and New York Liberty for the next two to three seasons.

The most notable improvement is the development of a new premium club reserved for the Nets’ 250 courtside-seat holders, said Rich Krezwick, president of Devils Arena Entertainment, the team’s facility management division. It will operate the club in a former storage space at event level on the Newark arena’s east side, in an area framed by a wall of windows facing Mulberry Street, Krezwick said.

Cure Auto Insurance’s naming rights for the courtside club at the Nets’ former home, Izod Center, will make the jump with the team.

“It is being rebuilt floor to ceiling with a contemporary feel and significant amount of televisions,” he said. “There is a solid wall of thick velour drape leading to a private area within the club for parties. There is controlled access off the floor, food catered for every game and bar service.”

The club will not be open for Devils games. The NHL team’s premium-seat holders have two clubs of their own for hospitality, Krezwick said.

In addition, the arena bought a basketball floor and a new riser system to be installed around the court for NBA games, a system that can be used with minimal changes for Seton Hall men’s basketball, another arena tenant, he said. Capacity for Nets games is 18,711.

“We are doing a lot of little things [for Nets games] with entries, the box office and other signs to install team branding in the building,” Krezwick said. “The walls and columns inside the arena have four-color custom graphics.”

The total cost of the retrofit is slightly less than $500,000, which the Nets are kicking in to help pay, he said.

The addition of 44 Nets games and 18 Liberty games and a spike in concert activity has resulted in 210 events scheduled to date for the fiscal year ending June 30, Krezwick said. The arena had 136 events in fiscal 2010. Thirty concerts have been booked, 17 more than last year.

“It’s nothing big, not like the 10 Bon Jovi shows we did to open the building or five Bruce Springsteen dates,” Krezwick said. “It’s a lot of one- and two-show deals. Everybody out there we got; it’s been a heck of a ride.”


DELEWARE NORTH SPORSSERVICE
Delaware North Sportservice is in its first year of
serving hungry Panthers fans at Bank of America
Stadium.

CAT FOOD: In Charlotte, officials tied to the concessions operation at Bank of America Stadium are making a slow transition from Stadium Food & Beverage to Delaware North Sportservice.

Buffalo-based Sportservice officially took over food and retail April 1 after signing a 10-year contract with the Carolina Panthers in late 2009.

As part of the agreement, Sportservice now owns the rights to the name Stadium Food & Beverage and will continue to use that company’s brand through the rest of the Panthers’ 2010 season, said Todd Smoots, Stadium Food & Beverage’s former director. He is now serving as Sportservice’s consultant for the changeover.

“It’s going from a small operation and evolving into one with a much bigger corporate culture,” Smoots said, referring to Sportservice, one of the major leagues’ four largest vendors.

“There is a learning curve on both sides, which is a good thing,” Smoots said. “They are taking a look at how we do it in this stadium in this market.

“They appreciate our operation. It’s not about tearing it down, but to build on what we’ve got.”

Tom Crocker, on-site general manager for Sportservice, moved down from Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., and oversees a staff of 28 full-time employees who worked for Stadium Food & Beverage.

Game-day workers, including nonprofit groups, remained intact during the change.

The transition includes using GuestPath, Sportservice’s proprietary customer service training program, Smoots said.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter@breakground.

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