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How Did Prudential Center Land MTV VMAs Again?

Nicki Minaj is slated to emcee and perform at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards. Photo: Paramount

When Tyler Bates joined the Prudential Center in Newark as director of programming in February 2020, his plan was to take the venue to another level.

Since then, Bates, who lives in Jersey City, has curated one of the most diverse arena lineups in the country, with an emphasis on Latinx recording artists.

The arena, commonly known as “The Rock,” is set to host the MTV Video Music Awards for the second consecutive year on Tuesday, September 12 at 8 pm ET/PT. Stars including Nicki Minaj, Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, Kelsea Ballerini, Lil Wayne are slated to perform, with Minaj also emceeing the evening’s festivities.

Bates chats about booking top shows and hosting hometown superstars.

Tyler Bates is the director of programming for Newark’s Prudential Center. Photo: Courtesy of the Prudential Center

How does the Prudential Center book massive events, such as the VMAs and the K-Pop band BTS, over venues like Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center?
We are in a great spot here in Newark. We’re very close to public transportation, and we’re just 15 minutes from Newark Liberty International Airport. And that’s huge, since fans can fly in and easily travel to our venue. It’s very easy to get here from New York, and it’s the easiest venue for those in New Jersey to travel to for an event.

What was it like when Taylor Swift appeared at the Prudential Center for last year’s VMAs?
It was so out of the blue when Taylor Swift showed up. Having that kind of star power electrified the room. The entire crowd went nuts. The next day, all people talked about was Taylor Swift appearing at the VMAs at the Prudential Center.

Maplewood native SZA is performing at the Prudential Center in October, and the Wyckoff-raised Jonas Brothers are coming in December. How cool is it to host shows from hometown superstars?
It’s special. We had the Misfits in recently, and Gaslight Anthem [from New Brunswick] opened and just loved playing a big show in their home state. It’s a big deal to play in front of your family and friends.

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The Prudential Center recently scored the NCAA Men’s Basketball Eastern Regional over 3,000 applicants.
That’s pretty massive. An event like that really catalyzes the entire state, in a similar manner to the VMAs or the big shows that come through here and only play a handful of venues. The big events give us the opportunity to showcase the arena, Newark and the state of New Jersey to audiences that have never been here. Our goal here is to have more of these types of events so people can see what the Prudential Center is capable of hosting.

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