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The Meadowlands Sports Complex is a sports and entertainment facility located in East Rutherfordmarker, New Jerseymarker, USA, owned and operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA). The site currently consists of three venues: Giants Stadiummarker, the Meadowlands Racetrackmarker (aka The Big M), and the Izod Centermarker (formerly known as the Brendan Byrne Arena and Continental Airlines Arena).

History

In the mid-1960s, civic leaders in New Jerseymarker began calling for a sports complex in the New Jersey Meadowlands that would be able to lure a National Football League team from New York Citymarker. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority Law was passed by the New Jersey Legislature in 1971 and signed by then-Governor of New Jersey William T. Cahill. The first chairman of the NJSEA was David A. "Sonny" Werblin, former president of the NFL's New York Jets. By year's end, Werblin had secured a deal for the New York Giants, who were then playing in Yankee Stadiummarker in the Bronxmarker, to move to the Meadowlands. Ground was broken on Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Racetrack on November 19, 1972.

To accommodate the new facility, access roads were improved. The New Jersey Turnpike, which had been suffering the burden of increased traffic volumes near its northern terminus in Ridgefield Parkmarker, built a new alignment, the "western spur", with an exit, interchange 16W, leading directly to the sports complex as well as to Route 3. Routes 3 and 20 (now 120) also received improvements.

On September 1, 1976, the Meadowlands Racetrack became the first complex venue to open, featuring harness racing. The track drew a capacity crowd of 42,133 for its initial date. Giants Stadium opened on October 10, 1976, as 76,042 fans watched the New York Giants lose to the Dallas Cowboys, 24-14.

By 1977, plans were in the works to expand the complex. A new arena was to be built on the opposite side of Route 20 from the stadium and racetrack, connected by vehicle ramps and a pedestrian bridge. Brendan Byrne Arena, named for the sitting governor, opened July 2, 1981, with the first of six sold-out shows by the rock musician Bruce Springsteen. The arena was renamed for its corporate sponsor, Continental Airlines, in early 1996. The arena is commonly known as "Continental" by the locals.

In addition to the three venues, the complex also hosts events in the Giants Stadium parking lot. State Fair Meadowlands (formerly called the Meadowlands Fair, and not affiliated with the New Jersey State Fair held annually in Sussex Countymarker) began in 1986 and has been operated by State Fair of Bellevillemarker since 2003. The parking lot is also the home of a twice-weekly flea market, which is canceled when the parking spaces are needed for stadium events.

Izod Center

The Izod Center (formerly Brendan Byrne Arena and Continental Airlines Arena) is a multi-purpose indoor arena in the Meadowlands Sports Complexmarker. Opened in 1981, it is one of the oldest arenas in the NBA and is currently home to the New Jersey Nets NBA basketball team. The arena was formerly home to the New Jersey Devils NHL hockey team until 2007, when they moved to the Prudential Centermarker in Newarkmarker. Official seating capacity is 20,049 for NBA games, 20,000 for concerts and 20,029 for college basketball.

The IZOD Center is a popular concert destination. In 2008, it hosted sell-out performances by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, the Jonas Brothers, Dave Matthews Band and Nickelback. It is consistently ranked in the top four arenas nationally by Billboard Magazine in their ranking of venues for concert and family shows.

Giants Stadium

Giants Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. It primarily serves as the home stadium for the New York Giants and New York Jets American football teams of the NFL, and is thus the only facility home to two NFL franchises. It is also the home of the New York Red Bulls soccer team of MLS. Maximum seating capacity is 80,242 making it the second-largest NFL stadium behind FedEx Fieldmarker. It is also the ninth-oldest stadium used by an NFL team.

The Stadium is consistently the highest grossing concert venue its size in the world according to BILLBOARD MAGAZINE. 2009 is the final year of Giants Stadium and in its closing season U-2 and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will play to two and five sold-out houses respectively

Giants Stadium will be closed and demolished in 2010 beginning thirty days after the last event. The new Meadowlands Stadiummarker opens in 2010.

Racetrack

The Meadowlands Racetrack is a horse racing track at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. The track hosts both thoroughbred racing and harness racing. It is known popularly in the region as "The Big M."

Opened in the mid 1970s, the Meadowlands Racetrack held its first-ever harness race on September 1, 1976 while thoroughbred racing commenced on September 6, 1977. The Racetrack is the site of the Hambletonian, the most prestigious event in standardbred racing. The track is equipped to race at night and most of its races are at night.

The Racetrack, including the main building, horse barns and site, was designed by the Philadelphia architectural firm of Ewing Cole (now known as Ewing Cole Cherry Brott), who also designed a number of other track facilities around the world as well as Citizens Bank Parkmarker in Philadelphia (with Populous).

In the middle of the track is a lake, intentioned to resemble the state of New Jersey. The Meadowlands Racetrack is also one of the leading simulcast facilities in the world in terms of total handle.

Future



Several times, the prospect of bringing baseball (in particular, the New York Yankees) to the Meadowlands Sports Complex has been discussed. Bringing the Yankees to the Meadowlands was originally thought to be as important as getting the Giants. However, New York City's government agreed to remodel (and virtually rebuild) Yankee Stadium at public expense in the mid-1970s. Later, a 1987 bond issue to build a baseball stadium was defeated by the voters. The Yankees continued to toy with the idea of a move to the Meadowlands, but dramatically improved attendance in the late-1990s and early-2000s convinced them that playing in the Bronx was still viable. They also conceded that taxpayers would likely only finance road and mass transit improvements in any location; the stadium itself would need to be privately financed. The new Yankee Stadiummarker was constructed in the Bronx, adjacent to the original.

The Florida Marlins had considered relocating in the early 2000s, and New Jersey and the Meadowlands had been considered for the franchise's new home, though this seems to have fallen through. The Xanadu Project, if done according to plan, would bring new teams such as the Bergen Cliff Hawks (minor league baseball) and the Bergen River Dogs (professional lacrosse).

In 2003, under the leadership of NJSEA chairman George Zoffinger, the authority agreed to a redevelopment of the Arena site. The proposal, named Xanadumarker, would expand the site into a shopping, office, and entertainment complex, preserving the Arena in a scaled-down form and adding a stadium for minor league baseball. The Mills Corp. and Mack-Cali Corp. broke ground for the project in March 2005 after receiving final environmental clearances.

In April 2005, after months of negotiating, wrangling, and filed lawsuits, the New York Giants organization and the NJSEA reached a deal to construct a new Meadowlands Stadiummarker to replace the 1976-constructed Giants Stadiummarker. The board of the NJSEA approved the deal shortly thereafter. A few months later, a new deal replaced the existing plans to build a new stadium, now a 50/50 joint venture between the Giants and the New York Jets.

Although the new building is currently referred to as "Giants Stadium", it has been speculated that the naming rights will be sold to a corporate sponsor by the Giants, who received the future naming rights based on the April 2005 agreement. The Giants have agreed to pay all construction costs for the stadium itself (estimated at $750 million in 2005), in exchange for the land and for the state of New Jersey's assumption of all debt for the 1976 stadium (as of 2005, there is still a debt balance). The state also plans to reconstruct major access roads to the complex in preparation for both the new stadium and Xanadu projects, at a cost of millions of dollars.

The future of the Izod Center is in doubt after the Devils moved to Prudential Centermarker in Newarkmarker, and the Nets are in plans to move the team to Brooklynmarker. The moves would leave the arena vacant as the Nets and Devils are its two major tenants. It was originally proposed to be demolished for the Xanadu Project, but Meadowlands Xanadumarker is slated to be completed before the Nets leave the arena. Community resistance, legal opposition and economic problems have delayed the Atlantic Yardsmarker project in Brooklyn, which includes the proposed new Barclays Centermarker arena. This has resulted in the Nets signing a lease extension to play in the Meadowlands until at least 2010.

Xanadu Project

The Meadowlands Xanadumarker is a large mall and entertainment complex, consisting of over 4.8 million square feet, that has been proposed by the Mills Corporation. The Xanadu Project would reside within the Meadowlands Sports Complex, utilizing areas now used for parking or not being used. Additional parking would be provided via new parking decks.

The Xanadu Project is not without controversy. From traffic concerns to environmental concerns, there are many who oppose the idea of building a permanent shopping center in the Meadowlands Sports Complex. As of early 2006, the project has gained necessary approvals and building of the Xanadu Project has begun. Developers are expecting a summer 2010 completion date for the Xanadu Project.

New Jersey Transit has completed the Meadowlands Station at the complex. This is part of Pascack Valley Line extension to the Meadowlands Sports Complex, in preparation of the opening of the Xanadu Project. The station opened for service on July 26, 2009. Studies are underway regarding the extension of the Hudson–Bergen Light Rail line to the Meadowlands Sports Complex as well.

The Xanadu Entertainment project will consist of many different station including sports, fashion, food/home, kids and entertainment. New Jersey is willing to bring on the challenge of making the biggest mall in the world, but is not ready for the expected traffic and population issues. New Jersey currently ranks as the #1 state of highest population density and it is no question that traffic has been a major issue in the northern New Jersey area for years. As of early April 2006, there is no answer regarding Xanadu's problem with Bergen County's Blue laws, which prohibit certain establishments from conducting business on Sunday.

Auto racing

In 1983, a Formula One auto race was planned for the New York Citymarker area. A temporary street circuit at the Meadowlands Sports Complex was one of the finalists for the location. A course at Flushing Meadows Parkmarker, in the New York Citymarker borough of Queensmarker, was chosen, but the event was canceled before the first running. In July 1984, the CART IndyCar series held the first Meadowlands Grand Prix on a temporary circuit built in the Giants Stadiummarker parking lot. The race was only moderately successful, and crowds were mediocre at best. In 1988, the course layout was moved to the streets surrounding Brendan Byrne Arenamarker and redesigned to a 1.2-mile, six-turn layout in an effort to improve competition. The race continued until 1991, and crowds continued to stay away. In addition, from 1988–1991 the race was part of the Marlboro Million, a cash prize awarded to any driver who won the Marlboro Grand Prix, the Marlboro 500, and the Marlboro Challenge All-Star event in the same year. The prize was never won. In 1992, race officials announced plans to move the race to Manhattanmarker, using a street course at the World Trade Centermarker. Within a few months, however, the race was cancelled due to cost concerns.

In the early 2000s, conceptual plans were drafted to build a NASCAR-style speedway at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, as part of a revitalizing project. However, the plan was rejected, and abandoned.

However, NASCAR proposed a race track to be built on New York's Staten Island and completed by 2011, but that plan fell through and the plans for the track at the Meadowlands Sports Complex have been revived, possibly building the track around the horse track, but NASCAR CEO Brian France has said that there are no plans for NASCAR to go to the Meadowlands, at least for now. But that doesn't mean NASCAR won't be in the Meadowlands in the future, there's even a chance they may go to the recently built New Jersey Motorsports Parkmarker in Millvillemarker.

CART Champ Car race winners

Season Winning Driver Chassis Engine Team
1984 Mario Andretti Lola Cosworth Galles Racing
1985 Al Unser Jr. March Cosworth Doug Shierson Racing
1986 Danny Sullivan March Cosworth Penske Racing
1987 Bobby Rahal Lola Cosworth TrueSports
1988 Al Unser Jr. March Ilmor-Chevrolet Galles Racing
1989 Bobby Rahal Lola Cosworth Kraco Racing
1990 Michael Andretti Lola Ilmor-Chevrolet Newman/Haas Racing
1991 Bobby Rahal Lola Ilmor-Chevrolet Galles/Kraco Racing


Tenants

Giants Stadium

Current



Former



Izod Center

Current



Former



Notes

  1. MILLS STARTS BUILDING MEADOWLANDS XANADU, accessed July 12, 2006
  2. Record Newspaper Accessed July 9, 2009.
  3. http://www.wilsonmotorsport.com/public_html/Resume-Website-2004.pdf
  4. http://www.grandprix.com/ft/ftmt001.html


External links




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