Exactly. There are 2 issues here. One, yeah, the "Green Zone" around the arena that should be the only area people attending a hockey game should encounter, is perfectly safe. But there are too many people that get all defensive when people ask these "Is Newark safe" questions, and then respond like the person posing the question is an idiot. Newark is one of the most crime ridden cities in the nation, and going to get worse, not better, if people merely cover their eyes and say the opposite is true.
I absolutely call BS on this unless you:
A) look like a filthbag
B) experienced this close to 20 or more years ago.
First part: You're absolutely right. Generally, I find Newark to be a great city, I've hung out there a good portion of my life, but it doesn't change the fact it is ridden with crime and not to mention predators of all kinds (car theft having been one of the most prevalent in previous years).
I do believe it's a city worth saving and I do think it can be done over the long haul. But there is very little doubt some people are ignorant based on experience, because downtown and Ironbound have never been THAT bad. They're not great, some of the **** does spill over, but it's nothing like other areas so for most it's "out of sight, out of mind."
As for being sold crack at MSG? I equally find it laughable, however, there are some snakes out there that do attempt to swindle people beyond the sight-lines of security. In March of 2002, still on high alert (or some gay, useless, fear-mongering terror color) with military security in Penn Station we were approached by a man attempting to sell us weed. Now, seeing as it was St. Patrick's day and we were flat out hammered from drinking all day long, my friend was gulled by this man's tactics and was not only passed a napkin full of oregano (which he handed over first in "good faith") but when my idiot friend pulled out his money to break him off a 20, the guy snatched the entire thing and bolted down into the subway.
I don't think you can underestimate the ingenuity of criminals, although crack seems a bit too slum-ish for it to be for sale right outside an area like that.
But, now going back to 2008, I went into the city to see Avenue Q and who do I see prowling around Penn Station? Same ****ing guy. (I have photographic memory, I don't forget faces). Except this time he walks up and tries the sob story route of "My daughter has a prosthetic leg in Boston and lost it in a fire, I need 50 bucks for an Amtrak ticket to go see her" (I'm obviously exaggerating it).
Security has been much better, no question, but these snakes find a way to still do what they do, it's just not as abundant and rampant as it used to be. I'm not from NYC, but my entire family lives there, and during the 1980's and early 1990's even being in places like Penn Station and the Port Authority bus terminal where there are plenty of witnesses **** would go down. When I was about 4 I was with my grandmother when some ****ing **** bag pushed her over and took her purse and ran.
I still hope to this day that **** got himself AIDS and died a nice slow death on skid row.