In the Stands: Opening Night!

First I want to make a public service announcement and say congratulations to the New Jersey Devils for pulling this off. The arena is absolutely gorgeous. I was a little hesitant but they’ve really got it right. The atmosphere is great, the concourses are wide, the food is excellent, the seats were comfy, the ice looked good, the view was great, and getting there was nice and easy since I took the train.

It started with hopping on the train from Dover to get in to the Broad Street station. The station, although under construction, seemed to have promise. Getting off of the platform, we saw three shuttle busses waiting for us with workers directing fans right to them and the busses clearly marked “Shuttle for Prudential Center.”

The shuttle stopped at the back of the arena, dropping us off at one of the less crowded entrances. But Jen (Strawberrie) and I walked past to get a glimpse of the whole arena. It is astounding what they accomplished in such a short time span. There were some tell-tale signs that they were rushing a little, however. No plants or decorations around the arena (although it is October), and the fact that the doors opened late because the fire alarm was going off inside the arena.

When we stopped touring the outside of the arena, we were at the PNC Tower (the glass cylinder on the right side) where hundreds of fans crowded trying to squeeze through only a few doors. It was a little disconcerting that this wasn’t thought out better, but I chalked it up to the fact they opened the doors later than they wanted to and a lot more people coming early then normally would.

Once getting in the arena, we saw the Stanley Cup, saw some excellent places to get food, took some pictures, and found a stand that sells hot dogs. Again, this is something we’ll get used to, but it was odd that the concession stand behind our seats didn’t sell hot dogs, just cheese stakes, pizza, and Chinese food. After wandering around, we finally saw “Top Dog” and grabbed a few to eat while we found our seats.

I found it really interesting that where we sat was wide open to the concourse. It wasn’t like this corridor that lead you from the concourse to your section, it was completely open so you could see in to the bowl from the concession stands.

Now this is where things started to get a little hairy. We walk down to our seats… row 11… row 10… seats 14 and 15… there is no seat 14 or 15. Check the other isle… no that’s section 15… Okay, so I give up. Where are our seats?!?

As it turns out, the Devils ran a little short in the seat department. They assumed they would have 15 seats in row 10 and sold 15 seats in row 10. I was just the unlucky one who got two at the end which the nixed. Nice job guys. So in any event, the usher called someone who helped us out, and got us different seats. They were 11 rows away from where we were supposed to sit, but I was happy sitting down and not being in the second tier!

Another minor but still inconvenient was that you had to get a program for the small Devil’s Den shop. This is one thing where Continental Airlines Arena had it right with guys standing in the concourse selling Programs and Media Guides. I didn’t even see a Media Guide to buy!

I won’t bore you with a recap to the game but instead some observations I noticed during the night:

1. I now fully understand the criticism people give John Oduya. This guy can barely stand on skates, let alone keep his grip on his stick. I think someone said he was gripping his stick to tight – so he wanted to prove them wrong.
2. I do not like the fact that the goal judges no longer sit behind the nets. It has become very obvious that the goal light comes on a good 10 seconds after the goal is scored. Really, what’s the point of it then? Either put them back, or get rid of the light altogether. I can watch the ref signal much quicker then a delayed red light.
3. The Devils horn sounds more like a train horn (which would make sense for the area I think) but I’m not a big fan of the goal song. Both the “Hey” song and the “Ole” song could be sung with. This song has no words, so you’re signing “Da da da da da. Da da da da da da da da da, da da, da da.” I still think we should be singing the “Hey” song, but I grew to like the “Ole” song after a few games.

Luckily it doesn’t look like this will be much of a problem because it appears as if this season we’ll be struggling to get goals, let alone wins.

The ride home was fine, but quiet. A general passenger getting on a few stops after the arena looked around, saw all of our faces, and said “Guess they didn’t win tonight, huh?”

Although what’s on the ice doesn’t look particularly good, everything else about our new home is just about there and looks great. I will be looking forward to going to more games soon.

Click Here for Photos from tonights game.
Includes photos by Kyle Bisignani, Jeff Zelevansky, Bill Kostroun, and Bruce Bennett

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