Madison Square Garden, New York City and Prudential Center, Newark, N.J. are partnering.

Madison Square Garden’s (MSG) James Dolan is bringing some Manhattan muscle to New Jersey. The Garden State’s Prudential Center, Newark, announced a marketing and booking agreement with MSG this week that will bring Prudential Center further in line with Azoff MSG Entertainment’s Oak View Group Arena Alliance, which counts close to 30 arenas in North America.

Both sides hope the pact will bring more shows to the Prudential Center, which has been blossoming under the leadership of Sean Saadeh, EVP of entertainment programming and booking, and VP.

Brian Gale, and Saadeh said this deal will help the building grow even more.

“About a year ago, we joined the Oak View Group with Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff as part of their Arena Alliance, that also includes MSG, so as the Oak View Group grew, we started to think it would be a good idea to formalize a greater partnership in the New York area to bolster the Alliance in the area,” said Saadeh.

“Those conversations started taking place, and the goal of it for us is to continue to grow our concert business, which has seen amazing growth over the past couple years, and to keep the momentum going. We think the partnership with MSG will only bolster that and take programming to the next level.”

Saadeh added that one of the primary reasons behind the pact is to take advantage of MSG’s marketing assets and apply them to Prudential Center events, tapping into the legendary arena’s large, loyal fan base to market to those consumers.

Part of the reason the deal works for both sides is that MSG’s plate is already relatively full with steady traffic from concerts and events as well as from its three major league home teams: the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) New York Liberty, the National Hockey League’s (NHL)  Rangers and the National Basketball Association’s Knicks. The partnership will allow MSG to push some events across the river to Newark as well as share data to better market to potential ticket buyers in both New Jersey and New York.

“MSG owns some of the world’s most celebrated venues, including Madison Square Garden – the number one concert venue in North America and undisputed market leader in the New York area. These assets, along with our effective booking strategy and proven expertise in marketing, have helped make MSG an industry leader in live entertainment,” said Darren Pfeffer, Executive Vice President, MSG Live, The Madison Square Garden Company, in a statement announcing the deal.

“We look forward to leveraging MSG’s unique stature and strong, long-standing relationships with industry leaders, along with a common membership with the Prudential Center in Oak View Group’s Arena Alliance, to help bring an exciting array of events to the Prudential Center, while also serving the market with more options.”
Saadeh said being part of the Arena Alliance has already been a great benefit for Prudential Center, allowing the arena to share information with some of the top venues and stadiums in major markets around the country, as well as finding out the latest on security and ticketing advances. “The sponsorship component makes a lot of sense for us too, allowing us to share information on what’s out there, where opportunities are and where we might be able to grab a show,” he said. “There might be a time when MSG can’t open a date, and it would be great for us to be in the conversation. We won’t always get the show, but we’re in the conversation.”

At press time, Saadeh said he wasn’t able to say how many more shows or events Prudential Center might gain as part of the deal because of the cyclical nature of the business, though he is confident it will benefit the building in a “major way. I feel like being in the conversation early on will only help.” In the meantime, Prudential Center will continue to do its business as usual, bidding for events along with the other three arenas in the area and competing in the market as it always has. “There will be shows that play MSG and that’s that,” he said. “But there will also be shows outside MSG and times when Prudential Center gets them and MSG doesn’t.”

Once there’s an opportunity to book a show, Saadeh said Prudential will be able to tap into MSG’s marketing resources, mining that data to find out where ticket buyers are coming from. “One potential resource is their database, among other things MSG has, which might be useful to be able to use their internal assets from time to time, their website, database and email lists,” he said.

Along with MSG’s ranking as the leading venue in the nation, the nearly decade-old Prudential Center is among the top 10 buildings in the country (with annual attendance of 2 million) and is coming off one of its most successful years to date, when it hosted more than 40 shows, including 20 sold-out concerts and events. The 19,500-capacity arena is home to the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, Seton Hall University’s National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Men’s Basketball program, and more than 175 concerts, family shows and special events each year. It will also soon be the home of the 8,000-sq.-ft. Grammy Museum Experience, opening in the fall.