With the New Jersey Devils‘ Prudential Center set to open next week, the city of Newark is pulling out all the stops to make sure that hockey fans (and Bon Jovi fans, since they’re the official opening-night act) feel comfortable in the big, scary city. Reports the Newark Star-Ledger:
Newark has posted signs, added lighting and assigned extra police downtown. NJ Transit has assigned scores of yellow-jacketed “ambassadors” at Penn Station and Broad Street Station. And the arena will post train schedules after the event.
Not that any of this is a bad thing – well, arguably some of it – but it does all cost money, driving the public cost of the arena still higher. The Star-Ledger reported on Monday that the public cost will reach $358 million (out of a half-billion-dollar-plus project) once money is found to build a pedestrian walkway over the McCarter Highway, which inconveniently sits between the nearby commuter rail station and the arena site. The city also agreed to build an additional $19 million in parks near the arena as part of the development agreement.
While the paper doesn’t give estimates for the cost of the extra police and lighting, urban planner Judith Grant Long has estimated that police, fire, and other services for a sports facility can run between $2 million and $6 million a year. At even a fraction of that rate, it won’t take too many years of calming jumpy visitors for the public’s arena price tag to top $400 million total. For that kind of money, you’d think they could have just bribed people to visit downtown.