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DEVILS NOTIFY NJSEA OF INTENTIONS -- STAYING PUT FOR '95?
Published June 27, 1995
The Devils announced their intention to terminate their lease after the '96-97 hockey season in a letter sent Saturday to the NJSEA. The team contends that provisions under the original franchise agreement signed with the Authority in '82 allow each side to cancel and terminate the agreement after the conclusion of the 15th year. The Devils said that their renegotiation of the lease in '91 that adds five more years to the out-clause is invalid due to breaches by the NJSEA (Larry Brooks, N.Y. POST, 6/27). In New York, Lawrence Van Gelder reports that the '91 extension was invalid because McMullen had not signed it, according to a source close to negotiations (N.Y. TIMES, 6/27). WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? In Northern NJ, Stephen Hirsch & Thomas Fitzgerald cite sources who say it "does not necessarily mean the team has decided to move," but that it does set an "acrimonious tone" to future talks between the Devils and the NJSEA (bergen RECORD, 6/27). In New York, Lawrence Van Gelder notes "there are many questions" about whether the notice "was in earnest or part of a bargaining ploy." Murray Chass, comparing the situation to similar problems McMullen had in Houston before selling the Astros: "He doesn't want to move the Devils ... He's only looking for fair financial treatment" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/27). Larry Brooks calls the letter "irrelevant" to whether the Devils stay at the Meadowlands for '95-96. The letter "is merely the first legal maneuver in the team's attempt to pressure the state of [NJ] into concessions ... It's a beginning, not an end. ... If the Devils can prove their case, perhaps even to NHL attorneys, the league then would not be in the position of condoning lease- busting in allowing the move; a very dangerous precedent" (N.Y. POST, 6/27). IS THE BEER FIGHT OVER? In yesterday's Bergen RECORD, Fitzgerald & Hirsch examine obstacles the Devils would face if they move to Nashville next year. Among the challenges: The ECHL Nashville Knights' contract with the 8,200-seat Municipal Auditorium; the need for state approval for beer to be sold at the new Nashville arena may give opponents time to convince lawmakers to defeat beer sales; the NJSEA could block the move with a lawsuit over breach of contract by the Devils; the team's victory in the Stanley Cup makes it more difficult to move (Bergen RECORD, 6/26). OH, BY THE WAY: The Devils announced that their victory parade will be held in the Meadowlands Arena parking lot Wednesday night. Many fans were disappointed after the Rangers' ticker-tape parade in '94 (N.Y. TIMES, 6/27).