The most recent Minnesota Wild road trip featured three big wins over Eastern Conference opponents, and put the good guys in the upper half of the Western Conference standings. That's what really mattered.
But the trip also featured stops in New Jersey and Pittsburgh, homes of the two newest hockey palaces in the National Hockey League. Wild.com's Glen Andresen accompanied the team on this trip and took photos of the features that jumped out at him as he trolled the concourses of these shiny new venues.
Today, he shares his thoughts and photos on New Jersey's $375 million dollar Prudential Center, which was built in 2007 and seats a capacity crowd of 17,625. Part II of the two-part series will appear tomorrow, featuring Pittsburgh's CONSOL Energy Center. Quick confession: I didn't take this photo. It comes courtesy of a Google Image search, but it gives a good idea of what the Prudential Center looks like from the outside. The most obvious exterior features are the big glass spires, which serve as entrances, at the corners of the building. There's also an 800-seat practice facility attached on the other side.
This is the view from the top of one of those spires, and you can also see the city of Newark in the background.
Like Xcel Energy Center, there isn't a bad seat in the house at Prudential Center. This is taken from the top row at one of the end zones. I doubt fans are too annoyed with having to stare at three Stanley Cup banners that might "obstruct" their views of the upper level seats at the other end.We've seen this before, but jerseys from the high schools in New Jersey line various parts of the walls in the upper and lower concourses. I wouldn't label myself a New Jersey High School hockey genius, but I did recognize the Brick Township Green Dragon High School sweater. Brick, of course, is the hometown of former Wild and Devils center, Jim Dowd, who was a high school hockey legend. I'm not sure how Dowd feels about having the Brick jersey hanging right next to the women's bathroom.
This mural depicts the four arenas that have housed the Scouts/Rockies/Devils franchise: Kemper Arena in Kansas City, McNichols Arena in Denver, Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, and now the Prudential Center in downtown Newark.
Wide concourses are a necessity in today's newer arenas, and you won't find many that are wider than this one on the lower level of the Prudential Center. Can you spot the photo of Cloquet's own Jamie Langenbrunner, who was traded to Dallas just days after this snapshot was taken?Without a doubt, my favorite features of Prudential Center were the two bars/restaurants that were found at the top of the lower bowl at each side of the rink, and can fit 1,000 people. On one side, you found this one, which is called the Fire Lounge. Here's the Ice Lounge on the other side of the rink. Note the clear stools at the tables. What's cooler than being cool? Ice cold!
I believe these would be considered the New Jersey version of Club rail seats. Sure, the TV is a nice touch, but is it really necessary considering you're on the lower level and you can see every replay on an enormous high definition scoreboard? Actually, it probably is.One of the interactive fan features is located in this area, where you can pretend you're on the bench with Devils greats. Had Jim Dowd been in the photo with his tiny breezers on, I definitely would have had my picture taken. A look inside one of the 76 luxurious suites. The food was delicious! Another area of the concourse featuring interactive games. Did you know Seton Hall played their college basketball games here? Neither did I. I didn't even know Seton Hall was located in Jersey. Special bonus points if you can name a player that wore one of those jerseys.Another feature you'll find in many of the newer arenas is artwork. It's tough to see here, but this mural covers a huge area of the wall on the lower concourse, and features some of the prized athletic figures that made their names famous in Jersey. The 65,000 pound scoreboard gives the illusion that it is on fire, presumably to remind fans that the 2010-2011 Devils season has been pure hell.