A proposal for a new Meadowlands Convention Center and hotel complex in East Rutherford envisions a 460,000-square-foot exhibition, meeting and banquet facility, plus three new hotels with a combined 2,200 rooms. — Rendering courtesy: Meadowlands Chamber
By Joshua Burd
A new Meadowlands convention center and hotel complex would generate $30 billion in new spending over 30 years, according to a study revealed Friday by supporters of the proposal.
The analysis, which was commissioned by the influential Meadowlands Chamber, is the latest step in a pitch to build a 460,000-square-foot exhibition, meeting and banquet facility at the site of the shuttered Izod Center in East Rutherford. Supporters are also calling for the development of three new hotels with a combined 2,200 rooms at the site, as they recounted Friday during a presentation at the chamber’s mDest23! Conference.
The study by Hunden Strategy Partners also projects more than $3.5 billion in capturable taxes over three decades as a result of the development, along with $13.4 billion in net new earnings and an annual average of more than 6,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
“We are on the precipice of providing the Meadowlands Sports Complex with an asset that will propel economic growth in the region the same way The Big M and Giants Stadium did in the 1970s,” said Jim Kirkos, CEO and president of the Meadowlands Chamber and its Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The next use for the findings is to compel the state to immediately advance the process of establishing an organization and funding process that responds to the market demand opportunity the study reveals.”
According to the report, a new Meadowlands Convention Center “would be a superregional and national player in almost every event type.” When compared to the other top metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S., whether by population or tourists, the New York and New Jersey market is short of prime convention space by 2 to 3 million square feet.
“While the cost of construction is continually rising across the United States, entities continue to invest in convention center facilities to be major catalysts for a growing tourism economy,” Hunden wrote. The firm estimates the Meadowlands facility would cost $1 billion to $1.6 billion to build, although more refined estimates would be developed during planning and design phases, while generating nearly 17,500 full-time construction jobs.
The findings come about a year and a half after the Meadowlands 2040 Foundation, an offshoot of the chamber focused on economic development planning, revealed the first piece of an economic feasibility study for the project. The subsequent report by Hunden recommended a new convention center and hotel complex with several key components:
- 300,000 square feet of flexible exhibition space, which could be used for a large convention and exhibition or a sporting event
- 100,000 square feet of meeting space, which includes smaller breakout and meeting rooms
- 60,000 square feet of banquet space, which could host events of up to 2,500 people
- A 1,000-room “headquarter hotel,” including additional banquet and breakout space
- Two privately developed hotels, including a 700-room luxury hotel and a 500-room select-service hotel
The Meadowlands 2040 Foundation has funded the second phase of the study with a $50,000 grant from the state Economic Development Authority. It was the first and is the largest grant to date under the New Jersey Asset Activation Planning Grant Program, which debuted in 2022.
“The NJEDA’s Asset Activation Program underlines the need to leverage opportunities that will create jobs and grow our economy,” Kirkos said. “This grant support is validation for what we already know: the Meadowlands Sports Complex is the only place in the NYC-Metro area that has a piece of land sizeable enough to respond to the stated need for a flexible multi-use venue.
“Together with American Dream, the Meadowlands Racetrack and MetLife Stadium, a convention center would round out a cohesive, connected, walkable entertainment asset just in time for FIFA to choose our location for its 2026 World Cup Final match.”
The foundation added that the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority — the owner of the arena property — provided an endorsement to the value and relevance of the study, a key requirement for securing the grant.
“The work we are doing now is representative of how important long-term planning will be for the region’s vibrancy and relevancy,” said Fletch Creamer Jr., chairman of the 2040 Foundation. “New Jersey’s business community is very enthusiastic about replacing the shuttered Arena and maximizing our tourism and destination related assets.”