Sports Seasons in Newark
No matter the season, there’s still news and activity on Newark’s sports front.
For the New Jersey Devils who play at the Prudential Center between October and April (even longer with playoff success), it is the offseason. But the team received a jolt of hope in April when it won the first pick in the NHL Draft Lottery. Despite having just an 8.5 percent chance, the team nabbed the Number One spot – the first in franchise history. The Devils, who have not made the NHL Playoffs in five straight seasons, may see a change in fortune with their pick - For the New Jersey Devils who play at the Prudential Center between October and April (even longer with playoff success), it is the offseason. But the team received a jolt of hope in April when it won the first pick in the NHL Draft Lottery. Despite having just an 8.5 percent chance, the team nabbed the Number One spot – the first in franchise history. The Devils, who have not made the NHL Playoffs in five straight seasons, may see a change in fortune with their pick - Nico Hischier, an 18-year-old Swiss player who had been with the Halifax Mooseheads.
On the community front, the Devils and Prudential Center recently completed the first year of their partnership with Barnabas Health as the Official Health Care Partner of the team and venue. This included naming rights for Prudential Center’s practice facility, called the Barnabas Health Hockey House. Ongoing community initiatives were also part of the partnership. Over the first year, the Devils made several visits to Clara Maass Medical Center in neighboring Belleville and other area hospitals.
Prudential Center’s other major winter sports tenant is Seton Hall basketball. The Pirates have high hopes for the upcoming season, played between November and the madness of March. Seton Hall has made the NCAA Tournament for two consecutive seasons, a feat it had not attained in 20-plus years. The Pirates finished last season 21-12, including 11-2 in games played at The Rock.
The Pirates have the potential to be a preseason Top 25 candidate in the upcoming season, especially with the announcement in May that its player and the nation’s leading rebounder, Angel Delgado, will be returning for his senior season. A notable non-conference opponent will be Louisville, a presumptive Top 5 team in college basketball. Seton Hall will head to Louisville for the game this season; Louisville will return the favor with a trip to Prudential Center in 2018-19.
The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Highlanders basketball team is expected to tip off in its brand-new arena this coming fall. The Wellness and Events Center is a $102 million building that will seat 3,500 people in addition to serving as a multi-purpose facility with many athletic amenities. The team will enter its third season as a member of the Atlantic Sun conference. After two straight 20-win seasons, NJIT went 11-20 last year. It was the first season under the helm of head coach Brian Kennedy, who took over for Jim Engles, who left for Columbia after eight seasons coaching NJIT to respectability.
Native son Shakur Stevenson has begun his professional boxing career with a flourish, winning both bouts to date, including a knockout after just 2 ½ minutes at Madison Square Garden in late May. Stevenson, named after the rapper Tupac Shakur, won the silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, and had his first pro fight on April 22. Newark is very important to the boxer who turned 20 on June 28; at his fight at MSG, the words “NEWARK” appeared on his headband and the back of his shorts.
The New York Red Bulls, who play between March and October in the beautiful Harrison stadium, have started off slow in the 2017 season. But they look to build on a recent run of success. The 2016 squad ended up with the Number One seed for the third time in the previous four years, and reached the postseason for the seventh consecutive year. The team will also continue community initiatives, including “Kicks for Kids,” “Jersey Auctions,” their “Street Team,” and more.
The Ironbound Maidens/North Jersey Rollergirls of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association celebrate its10th anniversary this year. In the most recent WFTDA rankings, the Rollergirls were 66th out of 325. The team runs its local bouts at the Inline Skating Club of America in North Arlington.
For those looking to pursue their own athletic interests, there are running and biking paths in Branch Brook Park (115 Clifton Ave) and Weequahic Park (Elizabeth Avenue). If you seek the social aspects of group sports, there is an annual dues-based county running group, the Essex County Running Club.
The YMCA of Newark and Vicinity has the usual weights and cardio machines, but also boasts racquetball, squash, and basketball courts and an Olympic-length pool. On the budget-conscious fitness end, a new Planet Fitness recently opened at 520 Broad Street.
Whether you’re a spectator or participant, there are plenty of options when you’re looking for sporting activities in Newark.
Newark Bound Magazine: It's all about Newark. Flip through the glossy for an in-depth look at Newark's world-class attractions, endless dining options, upscale and discount shopping, accommodations, and more. NewarkBound explores and reports on the highlights, trends, celebrities, humor, history and perspective that reflect life in and around New Jersey's largest city. Story By: Matthew McQueeny