Convention center planned near American Dream mall

Rendering of the Meadowlands Sports Arena with Convention Center (Meadowlands 2040 Foundation)

The American Dream mall in New Jersey’s Meadowlands could gain a hefty neighbor in the near future: a 460,000-square-foot convention center.

The Meadowlands 2040 Foundation unveiled plans for a convention center to replace the closed Meadowlands Arena, which was formerly home to the then-New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils, according to The business leaders involved in the proposal forecast the center as a host to trade shows, sporting events, conferences and more.

The space is expected to include 60,000 square feet for banquets, 100,000 square feet for meetings and 300,000 square feet of flexible exhibition space, New Jersey Business reports.

Phase two of an ongoing study could soon be in the works to gauge the viability of the project.

Phase one of the study, undertaken by Hunden Strategy Partners, wasn’t universally positive about adding a convention center to the area, reports. While it could be a fitting complement to the American Dream mall, the study singled out a lack of nearby hotel rooms as a drawback.

The timeline for the construction of the convention center isn’t immediately clear either. Jim Kirkos, president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, told he believes it could be built by the time the 2026 World Cup arrives in the United States. The venue for the tournament hasn’t yet been selected, but nearby MetLife Stadium is a candidate for a game.

Convention centers are not typically money makers, which is why they are often subsidized by government, but arguments for Meadowlands’ potential arrival have pointed to the benefits of the famous nearby mall. American Dream has endured big struggles since the pandemic and could certainly use the boost after being forced to tap into reserves to stay afloat.

The mall could also benefit from a new public transportation service. To that end, NJ Transit officials approved a $3.5 million study to explore a transit system for both the mall and stadium. A conceptual design is expected to be delivered next December.

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[] — Holden Walter-Warner