Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 10/20/07 at 04:06 AM ET
From Guest Contributor, Steve Lepore
“It’s ‘The Rock’, and it opens in 10 days” chimed Mike Emrick to open the Devils-Penguins broadcast on Wednesday night. The reason I mention that quote is because, when I heard the esteemed, multiple-Emmy Winning broadcaster say it…it became real to me, for the first time since all this commotion began! We will be playing in a new building in a mere week! Bon Jovi will be there for 10 days starting next Thursday!
OK, the third one’s not so exciting, but it’s amazing to think that the New Jersey Devils will be playing in a new home in the largest city in the state on October 27th against the Eastern Champion (and the Devils exit sign in the playoffs) Ottawa Senators. Here is some info that will get you primed and ready for “The Rock” on the corner of Mulberry and Edison.
The Rock will be open to the public for the first time on Saturday, October 20th, when fans will be allowed to tour the new building, complete with open concourses (and non-Aramark food!), the Devils mascot and power players (or ice girls, for uninitiated), as well as members of the New Jersey Ironmen indoor soccer franchise. The building will open to season ticket holders on Sunday, complete with Devils players and coaches there for greeting.
On Monday, there is rumored to be a large ribbon-cutting ceremony with a certain Democratic Presidential Candidate slated to be in attendance (Hint: He’s from the area where the Blackhawks still somewhat exist). On Thursday night, Bon Jovi opens their first of 10 shows in Newark with high-profile opening acts such as home-town boys My Chemical Romance, country acts Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson, ‘American Idol’ participant Chris Daughtry, and pop-rock mainstays The All-American Rejects. Finally, ‘The Rock’s initial intent, providing a home to one of the greatest franchises in sports is serviced on October 27th, a week from Saturday. In coming months, Seton Hall and national college basketball, indoor soccer, ultimate fighting, and a diverse group of acts such as Hannah Montanna and R. Kelly with Keyisha Cole will grace the Newark stage.
Check out the Newark Star-Ledger’s interactive page for more on the layout of the building, and a complete guide for you, the visitors to the city. It includes a practice rink, a potential NBA expansion area, and numerous bars, suites and other extracurriculars that any fan would want.
The rink itself was finished this week, you can see photos of it here. Part of what will make ‘The Rock’ such a wonderful experience will be the tribute to the state’s sports, and particularly hockey, heritage. There’ll be a practice rink for the Devils, complete with separate locker rooms and Lou Lamoriello’s new office, that the team hopes will inspire Newark-area high schools to start developing hockey programs for it to house, and has already recruited Newark East Side High School to the practice rink.
Each of the 129 high school teams in the state will have it’s jersey hung at the Prudential Center (a nod to the XCel Energy Center in Minnesota). The NJSIAA public and non-public championships will be held here from now on, as the tournament is sponsored by the Devils, and it’s championship, the McMullen Cup, named for the man who brought hockey to New Jersey and envisioned a new palace for this team, the Devils’ original owner Dr. John J. McMullen.
Interactive areas for kids will highlight the arena, but what I wanted to talk about before is what a history lesson you’ll get about the state’s sports history from coming here. Murals of the many great Devil teams will hang here. The one crowning achievement is the large-scale mural that features some of New Jersey’s finest (imported or native) athletes. The Devils’ Ken Daneyko, Scott Stevens and Martin Brodeur, U.S. National Team Goalkeeper (and Ironmen tender) Tony Meola, tennis player Althea Gibson and former Seton Hall great, the late Richie Regan.
The Prudential Center stands to be a fantastic new home for the Devils, Seton Hall, the Ironmen, concerts, youth hockey, fights, and just general entertainment. Say what you will about us, the average kool-aid-in-the-veins Devils fan and our team and how if you haven’t scored in five minutes it means we must be playing that awful trap, but we deserve a home to call our home. This place, pardon the pun, will rock.
See you in Newark. If you’re ever here, I’ll take you about 10 minutes away to Topps Diner to celebrate another New Jersey tradition, great diner food! Hope to see you soon!
-Steve Lepore, a regular atSports Fan Magazine
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