SBD/April 5, 2012/Facilities

Newark Mayor Slams Devils Owner Vanderbeek After Arbitration Ruling In Favor Of Team

Booker said Vanderbeek came to Newark with a "pocketful of lies"
Newark Mayor Cory Booker yesterday "criticized Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek for using what the mayor said was 'legal jiujitsu' to convince" an independent arbitration panel to grant the team $2.7M per year in parking revenues, according to David Porter of the AP. The city contends that the parking agreement was contained in an '05 letter "between the city and the team but was never formally approved." Since the city opened the arena in Oct. '07, the Devils "haven't paid rent to Newark while the parking dispute dragged on." In addition to the ruling on parking revenue, the panel said that the city "owes the Devils" $4.6M that it "must put into a capital fund for the team." The total "owed by the city is more than" $15M, or more than the $14.7M the Devils "must pay in back rent, fees and other expenses." Booker said of Vanderbeek, "He came to this city with a mouthful of promises and a pocketful of lies. He is a high-falutin, high-class huckster and hustler" (AP, 4/4). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Heather Haddon notes the agreement indicates that the Devils' future rent will begin at $3.9M and "escalate annually under the 30-year lease until it reaches nearly" $6M. Haddon writes the ruling was "widely seen as a victory for the team and a devastating blow for the struggling city." Booker is "known for a diplomatic touch," but yesterday he "showed flashes of anger as he spoke about the city's defeat." Booker: "There has been few times in my term as a public official that I've been this angry and upset." Booker also wrote on Twitter, "In a nation with some very great sports team owners, (Mr.) Vanderbeek has now tied us up in court working to exploit rather than partner with us." A Devils spokesperson said that the team owners "recognized it was hard for Mr. Booker 'to accept a legal loss" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/5).
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