More food options. Improved Wi-Fi service. Cashless (and touchless) pay options. Better flow in and out of the building. Increased amenities in premium ticket spaces. A bigger souvenir store.
As the New Jersey Devils prepare to open their 2023-24 season Thursday night at the Prudential Center, the increased expectations around the club do not end with its desire to reclaim a long-ago-held spot as a perennial Stanley Cup contender on the ice.
The organization aims to be a league-leader on the business side of the ledger, too.
Devils President Jake Reynolds can proudly boast of a 99% season-ticket renewal rate — and the largest increase in season-ticket holders in the league. It was all part of an effort that helped the team grow its business by an incredible 38%.
The challenge is following up that success. Reynolds said the business side of the team is ready — this year and in years to come.
“This is the very beginning,” he said. “Last year was the first domino to fall. As we start to look at our business, the team on the ice and everything that we have going on, we’re confident and hopeful that this is going to be the start of an eight- to 10-year run ahead of us, where we’re going to have the opportunity to compete for multiple Stanley Cups (and) we’ll continue to elevate the programming that comes into the Prudential Center that has made it a Top 5 building in the world.”
The biggest difference the fans will notice will come with the food offerings.
Last week, the team announced a deal with Levy, a leader in stadium dining that has been charged with upgrading the food experience (see a complete report on the new Disco Fries, Honey Hen Hot Chicken Sandwich, Jersey Ripper Hot Dog and more here).
There also is a new bar, the Foundry, which can be found where one of the team stores used to be on the main concourse. Located just past the escalator, it figures to be a first-stop spot for many upon arrival.
The Devils also are increasing the options for those in premium seating, too — premium sections such as the M Lounge by BMW, which has undergone stylistic renovations.
Other upgrades include:
- Wi-Fi: The infrastructure, supported by new 5G internet, in partnership with Verizon, and the installation of Lightpath’s all-fiber products and services, should improve Wi-Fi;
- Ease of payment: There will again be cashless and touchless purchasing processes for ease of sale at concession stands, as well as some new grab-and-go areas that will dramatically cut down on wait times;
- Merchandise: The Fanatics Team Store on the East Concourse will have an expanded footprint and will be relocated to the top of the M&M’s Tower staircase.
Reynolds said it’s all part of a three-pronged approach, saying the team’s success comes with increased expectations.
“We’re rolling out a rule of three for the three things our organization is focused on: raising the bar, raising each other and raising some hell,” he said.
“For us, it’s about hiring the right people, giving them the right resources and then setting a standard for ourselves where we continue to raise that bar, we continue to ask: ‘How do we continue to make the fan experience that much better? How do we continue to grow this business, and we put the right processes in place that gives us that runway to where we can have continued growth in the years to come?’”
One way you do that is by building a culture of success before you have success on the ice.
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Reynolds said the idea of being “100-point ready” has been on the mind of his team long before the on-ice team set records for wins (52) and points (112 last season).
“The phrase, ‘Being 100-point ready’ for us symbolized being prepared for when success came,” he said. “I got into this role back in 2019. And, at that time, we knew that we were building something special. And we knew that this was a team on the rise. But it was ultimately going to take us a couple of years to get to that tipping point.
“From an organizational standpoint, we wanted to be prepared for that success when it came, and so are we doing all the things that we can do and controlling the things that we can ultimately control and preparing ourselves for when that team turns the corner, and hits that 100-point mark.”
Reynolds on podcast
Prudential Center and New Jersey Devils President Jake Reynolds joined ROI-NJ’s Tom Bergeron on the Delta Dental First Impressions podcast. Click here to listen.
Reynolds said the organization has worked on its processes, its culture, its talent and its structure to be able to capitalize on that when it came.
“A lot of people from the outside see what happens last year and see an overnight success,” he said. “But for those who have been here, this has been four years of preparation and waiting for that moment to come. And it was incredibly rewarding and impactful. And I was proud of our organization and our team being prepared to capitalize on that moment.”
Teamwork — and a shared vision — is the key, Reynolds said.
“One of the things I think separates us as a holistic organization is an understanding and alignment of belief — and a buy-in as to what we are doing and what we’re building,” he said. “We’re building this together. I think that is the most important piece of all of this.
“Everyone understands what the vision is, everyone understands what the goal is — and that is to bring a fourth Stanley Cup to New Jersey, and to ensure that we’re delivering, for our fans, for this community and for this state.”