Harris' $240M Deal For Devils Awaiting Approval From NHL Owners, Creditors
76ers Majority Owner Josh Harris “agreed to the price tag” of about $240M for the Devils, but approvals “still need to come” from NHL owners as well as creditors, according to sources cited by Wolff & Giambusso of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. A source said that the deal “could be finalized in the next week.” Wolff & Giambusso note the package “includes the right to run the Prudential Center and reap the benefits of a full slate of concerts and other events.” The balance sheets “could not have looked too attractive” with a $161M debt to the banks and two loans that enabled Devils Owner Jeff Vanderbeek to "meet basic expenses over the last several months.” The organization owes the NHL $34M and another $30M to Philadelphia attorney Andrew Barroway, who also was “trying to buy the team” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/11). In New Jersey, Tom Gulitti reported Vanderbeek “might still end up with a minority share but will no longer be the one in control after years of fighting to keep the cash-strapped Devils afloat under a growing debt.” Vanderbeek had “hoped to remain the principal owner by bringing in new minority partners with an infusion of capital,” but when that plan “fell through, financial concerns forced his hand into seeking buyers for a controlling interest in the team." The '12-13 NHL lockout and the fact that the Devils missed the playoffs last season were "the final blows," as the team was denied "much-needed postseason revenue” (Bergen RECORD, 8/10).
END OF AN ERROR? In Newark, Craig Wolff wrote Harris is “arriving to rescue an organization steeped in its own financial troubles.” It was “widely reported that the loan established Barroway as the favorite to buy the team, but talks between Vanderbeek and Harris apparently intensified" last week. The sale to Harris would “close an eight-year chapter for the Devils with Vanderbeek as the majority owner -- a period that began with audacious dreams of transforming an organization, successful on the ice but seemingly adrift, playing in the Meadowlands, without a real identity.” Vanderbeek “fulfilled his ambitions, bringing the Devils to Newark, building the Prudential Center and adding a buzz to the city’s downtown.” But he "squabbled with city officials over just about everything" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/10).