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Izod Center to close for at least 2 years, move some events to Pru Center

The state-owned Izod Center in East Rutherford would close for at least two years under a proposed deal with the Prudential Center in Newark, whose owners would pay the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority during that time while taking on events scheduled for the shuttered venue, NJBIZ has learned.The proposal is scheduled to be heard Thursday by the board of the NJSEA, which owns the cash-strapped Izod Center and has been exploring how to sell or privatize it for several years. The 34-year-old arena lost money last year and has been losing business in the face of growing competition from the Prudential Center, the 2-year-old Barclays Center in Brooklyn and a refurbished Madison Square Garden.

Multiple sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said that some events scheduled for Izod would be transferred to Newark during the closure. However, it wasn’t clear Wednesday when the East Rutherford venue would shut down.

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Other details, including what will happen to the arena once it reopens, were not immediately available.

The state-owned facility and the Prudential Center were locked in a bitter price war when the latter opened. But those tensions have cooled considerably in recent years, especially since a new ownership group led by investors Josh Harris and David Blitzer acquired the Newark arena and the New Jersey Devils in summer 2013.

That group has been floated as a prospective suitor for the Izod Center, as has Triple Five, the developer seeking to reboot the nearby failed Xanadu project as American Dream Meadowlands. Triple Five in recent months has started construction activities at the site, which sits adjacent to Izod in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, and is expected to ramp up that work over the next two years as it completes what will be a massive retail and entertainment complex.

Izod, the former home of the Devils and the NBA’s Nets franchise, would be among the latest state-owned assets to be privatized by the NJSEA under Gov. Chris Christie. The Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park have been turned over to private operators in recent years, as part of the state’s efforts to minimize its involvement in money-losing operations.

Once known as the Brendan T. Byrne Arena, Izod lost the Devils as an anchor tenant when the Prudential Center opened in 2007. The Nets played their final home game there in 2010, moving temporarily to the Newark arena before moving to Barclays Center.

Izod has still been home to several popular events, including Disney on Ice and World Wrestling Entertainment matches.

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