NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 02: Fans play hockey prior to the Chicago Blackhawks playing the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on April 2, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Sorry, non-RU post today because I wanted to talk about this. Steve Politi's Sunday column considered the question of whether or not playing Newark is a negative for the Nets going into this summer's vaunted NBA free agent class.
It shouldn't be. The sparkling new Prudential Center in Newark has state of the art amenities, a convenient location thanks to NJ Transit, and is hardly similar to the lifeless Izod Center. (This is where I'm contractually obligated to mention that Izod is good for concerts.) I think the Nets could draw very well in Newark actually. Even if rebuilding, basketball is an easier sell in Newark than Exit 16W off of the Turnpike - owing to population density, and, yes, socio-economic demographics. If the NBA in Newark is a big hit, I hope that any ongoing troubles with the Barclays Center construction will tempt Mikhail Prokhorov to stay. Otherwise, I have no interest in the NBA beyond my recent decision to join the Wizards bandwagon.
The anti-Newark or New Jersey sentiment expressed anonymously in that article or elsewhere is misleading if not downright inaccurate. There can be wide discrepancies even inside a (relatively) small municipality. For instance, even Newark and Plainfield literally have mansions within their city limits. Countless other towns are socio-economically segregated via geography. There's absolutely nothing wrong with rapidly-gentrifying downtown Newark, where you'll find the arena and Rutgers-Newark. Newark's West and South Wards are by no means safe, but that's why Cory Booker is in office. Clearly any lingering memories of 1960's era riots and white flight won't be erased overnight though.
And that's the thing; in fact, it's probably the most dominant, overarching theme of New Jersey life, which permeates through every aspect of the state's political culture. There is a wide, wide gap between the urban centers and the suburbs.
Hence, the subject matter for 90% of Bruce Springsteen's song catalog. In New Jersey's Gateway Region, the Garden State Parkway divides some of the wealthiest zip codes in the continental United States from some of the poorest. It's not like any prospective NBA stars are forced to live in downtown Newark. They merely need to call a realtor and ask to see Hoboken, anything near 24/78, or north of Route 4.