Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, February 20, 2021

new capacity
As I settled in to watch tonight’s Rangers at Devils game, the TV pregame noise pointed out that this is the last game in the 2006-07 season series that will be played in New Jersey. Since the Devs will be moving into their new Prudential Center arena in Newark next season, this is likely the last time ever that the teams will play each other at Continental Airlines Arena (barring a postseason matchup this spring/summer).

So this seems to be the opportune time to make note of Continental’s official seating capacity for Devils games:

19,040 (hockey)

Nothing remarkable about that number at first glance; after all, plenty of sporting venues list capacities that are a long way from being nice, round numbers. Take into account the history of New York area hockey, though, and that figure — in particular, the “19″ and “40″ parts — takes on significance:

The Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1940, then proceeded to go through more than half a century before lifting the Holy Grail of hockey again.

As years went on, the Rangers’ championship exile became the subject of taunting by fans of rivals New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. Chants of “1940…1940…1940″ directed at the Rangers and their fans started in the ’80s…

In 1994, the Rangers finally ended the “curse” (as it came to be called) and won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 54 years, defeating Vancouver in the finals. Chants of “1940″ became a distant memory.

That’s right: The official hockey seating capacity at the Devils’ longtime arena has been fixed at 19,040, or “nineteen (thousand) and forty”. And no, it wasn’t a coincidence. Long ago — probably shortly after the team moved to the Meadowlands — someone in New Jersey’s front office figured this was a subtle way to stick it to their cross-river rivals. Even in the absence of a sellout, boxscores in the newspaper would always include the 19,040 number, unintentionally making it a stealthy, low-level way to chant “1940″. It’s been kept in place, despite subsequent obsolescence.

Think this is the paranoid speculation of a Rangers fan? Trust me, it’s not. Fudging the “official” seating capacity in arenas is a time-honored practice among professional sports teams. It’s an effortless way to pocket extra money whenever a team sells more tickets than the listed number of seats in the barn. Basically, official capacity can be whatever the building operator wants it to be; in this case, it served a marketing purpose.

Another example of this: For most of the 1980s and 90s, the home of the Edmonton Oilers — currently known as Rexall Place — listed a seating capacity of 17,099. What was that “99″ for? Take a guess. (Curiously, Rexall now claims “approximately 17,000″ for hockey; but boxscores in the old days always displayed that 17,099 number.)

Anyway, it seems the Devils are giving up the ghost on this. The under-construction Pru Center is slated to have room for 17,625 around the rink. It’d be a stretch to revise that up to the familiar figure by opening night. So I guess we can bid a final farewell to New Jersey’s jab.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/20/2007 09:59:02 PM
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz
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2 Feedbacks »
  1. NO MORE HOCKEY CARNIVALS?…

    Maybe I’m just not looking in the right places, but I can’t seem to locate a recent edition of “Carnival of the NHL”. The last one I can find is No. 21, courtesy of Eric at Off Wing — and that was all the way back in April…

    Trackback by Population Statistic — 03/16/2007 @ 01:33:12 PM

  2. IZOD CENTER IN THE SWAMP…

    With the Devils already gone, and the Nets short-timing it until they move to Brooklyn, the former Continental Airlines Arena is getting a new corporately-christened name. The Meadowlands facility will now be known as Izod Center.
    Lest you think the ar…

    Trackback by Population Statistic — 10/04/2021 @ 10:31:09 PM

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