The Unlikely Rebirth of Meadowlands Arena

From sports complex to concert venue to...soundstage?

Meadowlands Arena
The Meadowlands Arena in the 1990s, when Bruce Springsteen played 11 nights in a row there.
Wasted Time R/Creative Commons

What happens when a sports facility’s tenants move out? That was the case for the Meadowlands Arena — which, at various points, has also been known as the Izod Center, Continental Airlines Arena and the Brendan Byrne Arena — after the Devils and Nets both moved to newer facilities closer to public transit. It was also the case for nearby Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum when the Islanders moved to Brooklyn, but given that that move is beginning to be reversed, it’s a little less of a concern.

A new article by Allison Pries at describes “retired life for the arena,” as she phrases it. It’s no longer a music venue, nor do any sporting events take place within its walls. But it’s nonetheless still bustling with activity — but in a very different way than it was before. The Meadowlands Arena is now home to musicians rehearsing before tours, as well as film and television industry professionals engaged in creating new work, including the NBC show Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector. As Pries describes it, this was part of a concerted initiative by the state government:

The relationship between NBC and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns the arena, is the byproduct of a tax credit signed by Governor Phil Murphy that took affect last year and was meant to draw business to the state from film and digital media companies.

It’s a fascinating second act for a structure familiar to anyone who’s visited the Meadowlands. And it’s another demonstration of how resourcefulness can turn something disused into something thriving.

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