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Continental Arena must go, James says

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Saturday, January 31, 2004

By JOHN BRENNAN

STAFF WRITER

Newark Mayor Sharpe James warned after his 18th annual State of the City speech at City Hall on Thursday night that Governor McGreevey's decision to keep Continental Arena open under any circumstances could backfire.

James said that recent talks with the ownership of the National Hockey League's Devils have been very productive, and that Newark's proposed facility would outshine 28-year-old Continental Arena.

"Once we build a state-of-the-art arena here, with all the transportation we have - well, all roads will lead to Newark," said James, who clearly was not pleased that McGreevey wants to keep Continental Arena around.

James, armed with $200 million in funds from a renegotiation of the city's Newark Liberty International Airport lease with the Port Authority in October 2002, hopes to work out a plan to build a $300 million arena for the Devils without requesting any direct state money.

That has left many of the state's most prominent Democrats divided over Continental Arena's future.

George Zoffinger, president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, said repeatedly in 2002 and much of 2003 that he would recommend that Continental Arena be closed if a Newark facility was built.

But he has changed his opinion.

"I do believe that two arenas within 12 miles of each other is going to result in a sharing of what inevitably is going to be a finite amount of business," Zoffinger said. "That could be bad for both places. But we already have an investment in Continental Arena, and to shut it down means the state would be passing up approximately $7 million to $10 million in annual cash flow."

However, Sen. Richard Codey, D-Essex, the state Senate president, said the existence of Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the possibility of new facilities in Brooklyn and Newark would make it difficult for Continental Arena to keep its doors open.

"Nobody who is in that business would tell you that if you have four arenas within 45 minutes of each other, that they all could survive," Codey said.

Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, is just as adamant that Continental Arena would prevail over a newer rival 12 miles to the south.

"We are not backing down," Sarlo said. "The entire course of the Meadowlands has changed to where we now have a $1 billion redevelopment project at the arena site, and we have a commitment to build a rail link."

James fired several barbs after his speech at Zoffinger, the spokesman on professional sports for McGreevey. But the mayor suggested that he holds the governor responsible for the change in tone on Continental Arena's future.

"I don't think Mr. Zoffinger speaks like that without having some dialogue with the governor," James said dryly.

James said that years of trying to lure the National Basketball Association Nets to Newark - only to have the team sold earlier this month to a developer who wants to move them to Brooklyn - led him to omit mention of the arena from Thursday's speech.

"We've been abused, used, and leveraged for teams to go other places," James said. "We're not going to make any pronouncements anymore until [the Devils] sign our memorandum of understanding to show that they are sincere."

James seems pleased that YankeeNets - which played a key role in Newark arena negotiations for five years - is on the verge of dissolving. Instead, he and his aides have been negotiating with representatives of Ray Chambers, Newark's leading philanthropist and a principal owner of the Devils.

"The meetings we've had with the Devils are the best we've ever had with anybody," James said. "They've drawn up some exciting plans."

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Hartz Mountain's lawsuit could end up being the key to all this. If they continue delaying the start of the Xanadu project then you're going to see the state give up on the CAA and the Newark Arena is built. If they bail on the lawsuit and go home, CAA stays, the team goes, the Bergen politicians are happy.

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And given that they recently filed yet another lawsuit on this matter a week and a half ago it doesn't appear that they're about to drop it.

http://www.nj.com/waterfrontjournal/index....69997183500.xml

Hartz Mountain files 2nd Xanadu lawsuit

Thursday, January 22, 2004

By Maria Zingaro Conte

Journal staff writer

HACKENSACK - In a renewed protest against the proposed $1.34 billion Meadowlands Xanadu project, Secaucus-based Hartz Mountain Industries filed a second lawsuit last week challenging the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority's process for selecting the developers for the project.

Much like the earlier action filed by Hartz in October, this suit alleges NJSEA did not follow its own guidelines when selecting Mills Corp. of Arlington, Va. and Mack-Cali of Parsippany as the project's developers.

Each suit contests different actions taken by the NJSE in the matter, said Ron Simoncini, a spokesperson for the Hartz.

"Effectively the contest was for a different development than the one that's ultimately been approved," he said. "We're not seeking to have the proposal rejected or displace Xanadu . We're seeking to ensure that Xanadu is built according to the terms of the request for proposals."

The matter will be heard in the Appellate Division of Superior Court in Bergen County.

Groundbreaking on the 4.5 million square-foot Xanadu complex, planned for property around the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, is scheduled for May. The site will contain entertainment, office and retail space including an enclosed snow-dome, a luxury spa and a 520-room hotel.

NJSEA spokesperson Jim DeBosh described both of the lawsuits as a stalling tactic undertaken by Hartz after the company lost its own bid to become the developer of the Meadowlands site.

"They're mad they didn't win. If they can't do it, they don't want anybody else to," he said.

Last year, Hartz was one of three developers to compete for the Xanadu contract. In February, the NJSEA chose Mills/Mack-Cali as the developers and last month signed a 100-plus page developers agreement with the firm to formalize the deal.

The matter also comes down to concerns over competition, DeBosh said.

"In their view, they dominate the Meadowlands area in terms of retail and offices and they don't want somebody in there that's going to compete with them," he said.

Xanadu, which is slated to have 31 theaters, would siphon business away from the 14-theater Loews complex on Hartz-owned property in Secaucus, DeBosh said. Hartz could also lose its dominance in terms of office space and hotel usage in the area, the NJSEA representative noted.

Simoncini dismissed the claims as untrue. His company has supported development in the Meadowlands since 2001 but said the Xanadu project be subjected third-party oversight. To date, the development has been subject to less scrutiny than the average homeowner faces when seeking to build a simple addition, Simoncini said.

The goal of the lawsuit is to force oversight, he said. Without it, surrounding businesses, already struggling to survive, have no means for protecting their interests.

"What happens when this thing comes in?" Simoncini questioned. "Does anybody get to live?"

Maria Zingaro Conte can be reached at mzconte@jjournal.com

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Does the Xanadu project include a NEW arena at the Meadowlands? or an upgraded Byrne Arena?

you need the attention span of a nano scientist to keep up with this story? :unsure:

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Upgraded Byrne Arena or simply the present Byrne depending on what happens. Since the governor has flatly refused to allow public money to go into the building of a new arena for the benefit of millionaire sports owners I must assume that it will simply be the current version of the Byrne Arena.

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Upgraded Byrne Arena or simply the present Byrne depending on what happens. Since the governor has flatly refused to allow public money to go into the building of a new arena for the benefit of millionaire sports owners I must assume that it will simply be the current version of the Byrne Arena.

then this Devil fan says full speed ahead to Newark

I'm not the biggest fan of public money going to stadiums, but one can hardly argue that it's bad for business. Philadelphia seems to have pulled it off quite nicely.

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The only reason Sharpe James wants an arena in Newark is so that he can profit from it.

For years these politicians have wanted the income of CAA, and finally they realized they can't have it without building an arena in Newark, which is why he and his goons support it.

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The only reason Sharpe James wants an arena in Newark is so that he can profit from it.

For years these politicians have wanted the income of CAA, and finally they realized they can't have it without building an arena in Newark, which is why he and his goons support it.

Yeah, it probably has nothing to do with community revitalization or the fact that every single business within walking distance of the arena will pull in millions of tax dollars for the city and the state.

<JESTER>

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The only reason Sharpe James wants an arena in Newark is so that he can profit from it.

For years these politicians have wanted the income of CAA, and finally they realized they can't have it without building an arena in Newark, which is why he and his goons support it.

Yeah, it probably has nothing to do with community revitalization or the fact that every single business within walking distance of the arena will pull in millions of tax dollars for the city and the state.

<JESTER>

If that were true than Mcgreevy would support it.

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Screw the CAA. It was built too lure NY sports teams. We have our own teams now. It is outdated, in the middle of no-where, and has no sense of city/community feel, no mass transportation options.

I am 100% for a Newark arena. Like the Fleet Center and MSG it will make games more like an event. People can meet up a restaurtants and bars before and after games and be able to take mass transportation to and from the arena.

The Newark arena would provide more state pride. I am sick of watching Devil games or even Jets/Giants games with shots of the Manhattan Skyline and "Live from across the Hudson".

The Devils are a state treasure and should be treated as such.

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Screw the CAA. It was built too lure NY sports teams. We have our own teams now. It is outdated, in the middle of no-where, and has no sense of city/community feel, no mass transportation options.

I am 100% for a Newark arena. Like the Fleet Center and MSG it will make games more like an event. People can meet up a restaurtants and bars before and after games and be able to take mass transportation to and from the arena.

The Newark arena would provide more state pride. I am sick of watching Devil games or even Jets/Giants games with shots of the Manhattan Skyline and "Live from across the Hudson".

The Devils are a state treasure and should be treated as such.

-Middle of nowhere? - Its 5 miles from Newark, and 20 minutes from NYC.

-MSG and the Fleet Center only work because of corporate clientele.

(Newark doesn't have enough Corporate Clientele to make it worth buying season tickets if the arena was in Newark rather than 5 miles down the road.)

-State pride??? - Who the hell wants to go to the "dump" of NJ?

-Sick of watching games while seeing the Manhattan skyline?, what the hells wrong with the Manhattan skyline, would you rather enjoy the scent of Newark?

-Yes they are a state treasure, and are in a perfect location in the largest populated, wealthiest county in NJ. - The area where they can be the most profitable.

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The Newark arena would provide more state pride. I am sick of watching Devil games or even Jets/Giants games with shots of the Manhattan Skyline and "Live from across the Hudson".

I could not agree with you more!!!! I am proud to wear anything with the Devils NJ logo on it.

it may sound corny, but I like the Devils almost as much because they are not from Philly or New York just as much as I like them for being a heck of a good hockey team

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If it was the perfect location they would not be drawing 11,000 for many games.

As I have said before, it is the perfect location *FOR YOU* that does not mean it is the perfect location for the majority of people.

The Meadowlands *is* in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing but swamplands in the surrounding area.

While there are certainly corporate people at Rangers and Bruins games they do not fill up even half of the arena. Most of the fans in the arena are regular people.

They go because it is easy for them to do so.

You need to explain how they can be more profitable in an area convenient to 1.4 million people (in Bergen and Passaic) than an area where they are convenient to 4 million people in other northern and central counties not to mention people from New York City. It seems to me that being accessable to more people would increase the likelyhood of the team being profitable.

I dare say the swamps of the Meadowlands are much more dumpy and have a much worse smell than Newark.

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If it was the perfect location they would not be drawing 11,000 for many games.

As I have said before, it is the perfect location *FOR YOU* that does not mean it is the perfect location for the majority of people.

The Meadowlands *is* in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing but swamplands in the surrounding area.

While there are certainly corporate people at Rangers and Bruins games they do not fill up even half of the arena. Most of the fans in the arena are regular people.

They go because it is easy for them to do so.

You need to explain how they can be more profitable in an area convenient to 1.4 million people (in Bergen and Passaic) than an area where they are convenient to 4 million people in other northern and central counties not to mention people from New York City. It seems to me that being accessable to more people would increase the likelyhood of the team being profitable.

I dare say the swamps of the Meadowlands are much more dumpy and have a much worse smell than Newark.

I don't see how a 5 mile difference makes it more convenient...

Please explain.

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Certainly, it is 15 miles btw, I can take a train from a station two blocks from my house and be at the Newark arena in 45 minutes (35 if I catch an express). In no traffic and ignoring the speed limit I *may* be able to get the Meadowlands in 45 minutes, but it would be close. I also work in Manhattan and take the train every day, the Newark arena is a stop on my way anyway so you cannot get more convenient than that. I am not alone, an arena in Newark would have direct single seat train access from everywhere from Raritan to Trenton to Pt. Pleasant making a trip to a hockey game faster, easier and more convenient than it is now for millions of people. That does not even take into consideration how much easier it is for people from Manhattan to get to a Newark arena via NJ Transit or PATH trains from lower Manhattan. Even without the train countless buses from all over the state go to Newark Penn Station providing easy access for people who do not live near a train station.

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the Fleet Center only work because of corporate clientele.

Dont speak what you dont know of. If anything fleet is more non corporate then it is corporate. This is just the boston fans, and doesnt even include the thousands of college students in the city that do attend games, especially on thursday night college nights.

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Upgraded Byrne Arena or simply the present Byrne depending on what happens. Since the governor has flatly refused to allow public money to go into the building of a new arena for the benefit of millionaire sports owners I must assume that it will simply be the current version of the Byrne Arena.

Not true -- the current plans for a renovated CAA within the Xanadu development envision a drastically scaled down facility of 8-10,000 seats designed to hold concerts and other family events. Zoffinger has been quoted on many occasions comparing the renovated CAA to the Theatre at MSG. They don't give a damn about hockey, because they lose a lot of money under current lease provisions, and don't see them getting any better under a new deal. On the contrary, NJSEA, McGreevey and Zoffinger see a downsized arena holding concerts and Dora the Explorer as a profit generating facility. I'm a democrat, but McGreevey is a snake (and it is an open secret in Trenton that he is homosexual, but that is another story . . .)

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(and what does that have to do with anything)

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dj.......i hate picking on you but i have to here. the 5 mile difference to newark makes a huge difference. why? because you can get there by public transportation from everywhere in the state and from nyc. how can you get to the meadowlands without a car? you can take a bus from manhattan but once you're there it is impossible to get anywhere else by public transportation unless you are planning on going back to manhattan. you can say "well everyone drives in nj" which is by and large true, BUT people who take the trains and buses to work in newark, jersey city, new york, etc cannot go to the games during the week because there is no way to get there or back home. if your suggestion is a renovated CAA with a rail link to the secaucus junction and all the entertainment ammenities that would accompany xanadu, i'd be interested in that. however, IMO newark is the way to go. unfortunately you think that since CAA is convenient for you that it is therefore that convenient for everyone else. that is just not true.

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Not true -- the current plans for a renovated CAA within the Xanadu development envision a drastically scaled down facility of 8-10,000 seats designed to hold concerts and other family events. Zoffinger has been quoted on many occasions comparing the renovated CAA to the Theatre at MSG. They don't give a damn about hockey, because they lose a lot of money under current lease provisions, and don't see them getting any better under a new deal. On the contrary, NJSEA, McGreevey and Zoffinger see a downsized arena holding concerts and Dora the Explorer as a profit generating facility.

Interesting. So really, Newark doesn't have much to worry about if the CAA stays open because in theory the two arenas would be chasing different kinds of events. Yes, no?

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NJTrrmap_Nov03.jpg

That is why we want it, dj. Look for the words Newark Penn Station, Newark Broad Street Station, Newark Airport Station and Meadowlands Sports Complex Station. One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn't belong. If you don't get it after looking at this map then its obvious your brain has been hardwired and you're an evil robot programed by the head of the Bergen County Republican Party.

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