The eighth in our 118 part series.
Continental Airlines Arena
For all the years we had our season tickets, CAA was our home away from home. No, it wasn’t Maple Leaf Gardens, or Boston Gardens, or Chicago Stadium, but it was our building. As far as buildings went, it fit the team perfectly — it got the job done, it wasn’t flashy but what it did well (sight lines, broadcast booth location, banner-raising) it did really well, and it did it without any unnecessary flash or glitz. Sure, folks from out of town, where teams have fancy new arenas with concourses more than 2 1/2 people wide and food that actually resembles food, would complain about what a dump it was, but to us, it was perfect. The building was always bright (we’ve never been to another NHL arena as brightly lit as the CAA ), the ushers always friendly, the championship banners plentiful. There were no windows in the concourse to distract the paying customers from the entertainment matter at hand with the glitzy Meadowlands landscape outside; instead the concourse was designed with skylights that let the sunshine in — but seemingly only during the playoffs so the entire space felt somehow different and more exciting as soon as the postseason started. We’ve been to a lot of arenas, but CAA had something special, something so very Devils about it. There were (until, to our utter dismay, this past season) no high-end LCD screens with crazy graphics; there was just a small digital out-of-town scoreboard. There was no mascot repelling from the rafters; instead, the crowd was driven into a frenzy by a season ticket holder with some serious lungs who would lead the arena in old-fashioned “Give me a D! Give me an E! [And so on.]” cheers. There were no ice girls; just North Jersey guys in white jumpsuits. A trip to the Swamp to watch hockey was exactly that and no more: you went there to watch hockey. We’re excited for the Devils’ new home in Newark (okay, we’re not, but we really loved seeing cute little bundled-up Patty Elias proclaiming, “This is my new home!” on those NHL commercials), and we hope they can turn around the attendance issues they’ve struggled with thanks to the heinous, heinous construction and parking issues at the Meadowlands this past season, but that excitement and hope is definitely tempered. Because when the Devils move on, we’ll be leaving huge parts of hearts behind at Continental Airlines Arena.