Mayor Booker On WFAN: Newark Ready For NCAA Tournament Spotlight

NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Newark is the new kid on the block in this year’s NCAA Tournament, a scrappy underdog looking to compete with the big boys and grab a piece of March Madness for its own.

Mayor Cory Booker joined WFAN’s Boomer & Carton on Tuesday morning to pump his constituency up for Newark’s Sweet 16 spotlight. And let’s face it, five or six years ago, Newark couldn’t have hosted an event of this magnitude.

That was before the completion of the Prudential Center.

“We’ve got the NBA Draft coming to the city of Newark, a global peace conference with the Dalai Lama coming,” said Booker. “All businesses, jobs, entertainment, shows, UFC Ultimate Fighting we had just this past week with some great action, so Newark is really becoming the ‘it’ spot in the area.”

LISTEN: Newark Mayor Cory Booker with Boomer & Carton

Booker is tight-lipped about his tournament bracket.

“I haven’t been too public with it, but give me a break, every year me and my friends, we’ve got to pick our bracket,” Booker said.

When the arena opened, hockey analyst Barry Melrose described it as a “beautiful new building” but added, “Don’t go outside if you have a wallet or anything else, because the area around the arena is just horrible.” He later apologized to Booker for the remarks.

“Unfortunately the press loves it. One shooting, you see it all over the newspapers,” Booker said. “We’re going to continue to tell our truth. And the great thing about the arena right now is we’re bringing millions of people in, and I call it ‘Newark Shock.’ People come in and see the city and say, ‘Wait a minute, it’s nothing (like) my ideas of the city of Newark.'”

Newark’s violent crime rate fell dramatically in 2008 and 2009, but has crept upward in the last two years. Still, the arena district, which includes the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Penn Station rail terminal, has historically had the lowest incidence of crime in the city.

“I’m a competitor, just like you are,” Booker told Boomer & Carton. “We’re all former athletes here. I’m going to fight for my city, I’m going to go to the mat for it.”

Prudential Center NCAA Tournament schedule:

Regional Semifinals
Friday, March 25

North Carolina (28-7) vs. Marquette (22-14), 7:15 p.m.

Ohio State (34-2) vs. Kentucky (27-8), 9:45 p.m.

Have you been to the Prudential Center? If so, what was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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  • Chris

    Good to hear Booker and Christie put Carton in his place.
    Carton is a fan of garbage teams, Mets, Knicks and Jets.

    The Mets hardly ever sell out but he mentions the Devils? The Devils draw well and make money in Newark too.

    I plan to go to Newark and try to scalp tickets on Friday night, worse comes to worse watch the games at a local bar near the arena.

  • Dean Panos

    Best arena I have ever been to! Blows away MSG or any other on the East Coast.
    Great restaurants in the nearby Ironbound (other side of Newark Penn) and good bars near the arena-the brew pub on Commerce is my favorite.

    Crime is nonexistent near the arena on game nights, you could take the train or park for free a few blocks away on side streets off Mulberry St.
    Safer than going into NYC for Yankees/Mets games for sure and someone did get stabbed right outside MSG this past year.

  • Dan

    Most Dangerous cities in USA – Top 25:

    #22 in the USA – NEWARK, NJ (Cory Booker, mayor)

    Will you be visiting for 5 or 6 hours, as the mayor states, next time you attend an event at the Rock in Newark? GOOD LUCK!

  • Bo

    Mr. Carton, all uniform services in Newark want to kiss you right now…. you called it the way it is….nothing more to be said other then….THANK YOU !!!

  • Dan

    Newark, NJ Police Dept. Statistics from COMSTAT 12/4/10 to 3/13/11

    100 days since the layoff of 162 Police Officers, compared to the same time frame one year prior.
    Murders – 17 to 28 +65%
    Robberies – 342 to 419 +22%
    Agg. Assaults – 250 to 283 + 13%
    Burglaries – 362 to 523 + 44%
    Auto Thefts – 668 to 922 +38% (Good luck at the Rock, car gone)
    Carjackings – 32 to 110 +243% (WOW, Good luck driving to the Rock) Drive with the mayor and his bodyguards, or get a Devils bullet-proof vest!

  • Jim

    The Rock is great, I have been there a couple dozen times, brought the family too. I am also a cop, and armed.

    The Rock is safe because the NPD has created the arena unit, flooding the area with cops on event nights to make sure you cross the street safely and, hopefully, nobody breaks into your car while you are inside..

    The rest of the city is covered by cops who go from job to job to job, dealing with stolen cars, drug dealing, carjacking, and shootings.

    The visitors are safe, its the residents that have to be concerned.

  • Jason

    The prudential center stinks for a new building…the seats are small and packed together and the building has no charm…not to mention Newark may be getting better as an area but you walk two blocks from the arena and you could be stabbed…

  • Dan

    Mr. Carton, Thank You for puting the mayor on the hot seat! But he danced around your question. The City of Newark, NJ had 1033 Police Officers (+250 Supervisors) prior to the layoffs. The mayor stated that the Police Officers refused to give up a few hundered dollars to stop the layoffs.1033 x $500 = $516,500.00. The budget gap was $9.5 Million. Must be a new math at Stanford University? Almost $9 Million short? And the contract was just agreed (NOT ARBITRATION) to by the mayor in February 2010. Right after he is re-elected in May 2010 he anounces layoffs? NJ POLITICS AT IT WORST!

  • Ben

    Prudential Center is a wonderful venue, Downtown Newark is a great place, great restaurants in the Iron Bound Section, very accessible via train, and a state of the art facility. I go there for Devils and Nets games and consider it a home away from home. I don’t watch a thing of March Madness but I will be watching any games that will be played in Newark because I love to see the city grow and have the arena host some fantastic games

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