SBD/Issue 205/Facilities & Venues

Meadowlands, Devils Disagree About Izod Center's Financial State

Devils Owner Believes Izod Center Loses At
Least $10M A Year, Should Be Closed
Devils Owner Jeff Vanderbeek believes that the Izod Center is "a 'dinosaur' that loses at least" $10M a year, and that the arena "should be closed as a favor to state taxpayers who spend tens of millions annually to keep" solvent the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA), the operator of the Izod Center, according to John Brennan of the Bergen RECORD.  However, Meadowlands Sports Complex officials indicated that the Izod Center "broke even in 2007, was in the black" by $1M in '08 and "will make about the same amount of money again" in '09. Vanderbeek said that the Izod Center is "preventing the Prudential Center from making money," and he said that the NJSEA's gain is "virtually negated by losses in parking, concession and luxury suite revenues in the aftermath of the Devils' departure." Vanderbeek also said that renovating the Izod Center is "not practical because the Americans With Disabilities Act ... forces older arenas to be brought into full compliance if substantial renovations are performed," and that such compliance would cost at least $100M. Meanwhile, Brennan noted that the Izod Center is $77M in debt, and NJSEA President & CEO Dennis Robinson conceded that the agency is "facing a difficult financial situation overall." Robinson: "As the horse-racing business has continued its decline over the years, it's gotten to the point where it no longer serves as a financial foundation as it did in the past." Brennan notes the NJSEA also will "lose a multimillion-dollar annual revenue stream when Giants Stadium closes in early 2010" (Bergen RECORD, 7/14).

OUT TO SEA: A Newark STAR-LEDGER editorial was written under the header, "New Jersey Sports And Exposition Authority's Time Has Passed. Let's Kill It." New Jersey state Senate President Richard Codey and officials insist that the state "can save the horse racing industry with slot machines at the Meadowlands." But there are "several problems with their theory," including that gambling revenues "of all types are trending downward." The editorial: "Why do we need the NJSEA? ... Why not let horse racing die a natural death in New Jersey?" Without a "viable plan for the future of the Meadowlands -- and we haven't heard one -- the next governor should admit it's time to close up shop at the NJSEA." At presstime, the editorial had elicited 30 comments (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/12). 

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