NEWARK, N.J. - The New Jersey Devils played their home opener as scheduled Friday night despite a construction code dispute that closed the Prudential Center down this summer.
The team obtained a temporary certificate of occupancy to enable it to play the opener against the New York Islanders, and was closing in on a permanent solution. Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek said the paperwork required for a permanent certificate was submitted to the City of Newark last week.
"The city is reviewing those documents and we're both close to getting it done," Vanderbeek said in a telephone interview. "We could hear back from them as early as next week."
A permanent certificate of occupancy would bring an end to a paperwork battle between the Devils and Newark construction officials that has bedevilled the US$380 million arena since it opened in October 2007. Several temporary certificates of occupancy have been issued to permit events to be held there.
The hockey team ran into trouble July 11 when the arena was closed for several hours in the absence of proper documentation for smoke alarm and ventilation improvements. Newark spokeswoman Esmeralda Cameron said firefighters will continue staffing stairwells at Prudential Center under the terms of the current temporary certificate of occupancy.
There has been at least one other run-in with city code enforcement officers. In March, the city ordered the centre to halt work because it was installing a pedestrian bridge without proper permits.
The Devils are required to provide complete documentation on additional work at the arena, according to Newark officials.
It is not unusual for a facility as big as Prudential Center to have to wait a year or more to obtain a permanent certificate of occupancy as additional features are installed, Vanderbeek said.