The moon man has landed
The moon man has officially landed in Newark, and although he is not Neil Armstrong, he is putting New Jersey on the map where the entertainment industry is concerned. On August 26, 2019, the City of Newark and the State of New Jersey will make history. For the first time ever, mass media conglomerate Viacom is bringing the MTV Video Music Awards to the Prudential Center.
Governor Phil Murphy could not be more stoked, as during the press conference he referenced one A-List performer after another who hail from the Garden State (Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, Frank Sinatra, Lauryn Hill, etc.) emphasizing that New Jersey is long overdue in receiving this caliber of attention. After decades of landing in multiple ‘Most Dangerous Cities’ lists, Newark has been undergoing a swift redevelopment, and Mayor Ras Baraka is ecstatic that the country’s top performers will be shopping and dining out in Newark, shining light on the side of Newark a majority do not get to see.
The man behind the scenes, Executive Vice President of Entertainment for the Prudential Center, New Jersey Devils and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Sean Saadeh, is confident the upcoming showcase will put New Jersey on the scene enough to rival with the Big Apple.
Of all locations, especially being as the MTV VMAs are typically held in New York and Los Angeles, why New Jersey?
Sean Saadeh: I believe there are a plethora of positive attributes when it comes to hosting the MTV VMAs at the Prudential Center. For one, New Jersey is an extremely large marketplace, 9 million strong to be exact, and already familiar with hosting large-scale events. New Jersey has hosted the Super Bowl, Wrestlemania, and so forth. This is a community rich with artists and talent who were born in New Jersey, lived in New Jersey and currently reside in New Jersey. There is a great storyline behind that aspect of history which relates to hosting the awards ceremony here.
How did this arise? Was this a new concept or a move which has been in the works for a while?
SS: I have been pushing for this for approximately four years now, because I feel this market is a terrific market; we are close to a major city (New York), we have an international airport (Newark) within ten minutes of Prudential Center, and this is a true plug-and-play venue, very easy to get in and out of. I think it makes all the sense in the world to be here.
Essentially, with Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment having executed an excess of sports and entertainment events, what can we expect from the first MTV VMAs being held in the Garden State?
SS: MTV is extremely excited about being in New Jersey. They are well aware of all of the historical talent which has come through here. They want to play up the fact that this is unique and different. Ultimately, MTV wants to pay homage to the Garden State in a very special way.
What does this signify for the State of New Jersey, and moreover, the City of Newark to be hosting one of the largest and most iconic awards shows in the country?
SS: From the standpoint of the Prudential Center, it illustrates how diverse our programming is. It often goes unrecognized that we host such a myriad of acts whether they be Top 40, K-Pop, Latin, Indian, Hip-Hop, R&B, and of course traditional legacy shows. This speaks to the fact that we can oversee these major events, the diversity of such events, and due to the fact that hosting the MTV VMAs is both so grand and so new, I can guarantee you this will have more meaning as opposed to merely another year in New York or Los Angeles. You can expect noteworthy support from our community, not just from Newark, but all of New Jersey. This is certainly going to be an exciting one-of-a-kind show.
Can you address what this means for a venue such as the Prudential Center?
SS: By MTV hosting the Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center, it validates what we always believed we were: an amazing staple venue which often gets overshadowed being across the Hudson River from New York. From what I am witnessing takes shape; I am confident this is the start of what can be many events of this caliber in the future for New Jersey. This really excites me because Viacom has truly checked the box and said yes to not only New Jersey, but yes to Newark as well as the Prudential Center all across the board. Now we have MTV realizing, “Yes, New Jersey, we get it too!”