Official: Gov, lawmakers to review sports, gaming, and entertainment authorities, facilitiesBy Beth Defalco, AP
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Source: NJ gov, lawmakers to review sports, gaming
TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday plans to order a seven-member commission to review the way gaming, sports and entertainment are overseen in New Jersey.
Christie is seeking recommendations on what to do with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the Xanadu retail and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands and the state’s horse racing industry. Christie also wants suggestions on how to promote Atlantic City as a resort destination, according to an administration official familiar with the governor’s plans.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss governor’s plans ahead of a news conference.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono has announced that the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee will also hold hearings starting Feb. 25 to examine the fate of the NJSEA.
A report by Christie’s transition suggests that the NJEA should be seriously looked into and possible disbanded.
“With a $38 million dollar budget shortfall that will have to be made up by the state’s taxpayers in 2010, it is important that the entire mission, structure and even very existence of the NJSEA be questioned,” the report said.
The NJSEA, created in 1971, operates the Meadowlands, which including the stalled Xanadu retail and entertainment project and the new Giants and Jets football stadium, as well as the nearby Izod Center, the Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, and the new and historic Atlantic City Convention Centers.
The governor’s commission reviewing it is being headed by Jon Hanson, a former NJSEA chairman who was also the chairman of the Christie’s transition team on gaming, sports and entertainment — an indication that the commission recommendations may not divert far from the transition teams’ conclusions.
The commission will be tasked with deciding how to solve major problems that include:
— Xanadu: The stalled giant retail and entertainment complex next to the Izod Center and across a highway from Giants Stadium was slated to open in 2007. Now the viability of the sprawling $2 billion complex is in question.
— Izod Center: A deal to move the New Jersey Nets from the Izod Center to Newark’s Prudential Center for two years is on hold. At issue is whether the Nets will pay $7.5 million in penalty fees for breaking the team’s lease at the Meadowlands. The Nets are planning to move to Brooklyn by 2012.
— Horse Racing: The industry is projected to lose $22 million in 2010. The transition team suggests forcing horse racing to become self-sufficient; having Monmouth Park consider moving to a 50-day summer meet with high purses; and letting the NJSEA oversee all off-track wagering and video.
Other suggestions by the transition team include studying whether the Meadowlands can be redeveloped for NASCAR racing, creating a public-private venture to market Atlantic City as a destination resort, and privatizing the state lottery.
Buono said her legislative hearings will examine the overall fiscal operations of the NJSEA. She has not said whether the committee will issue as report or suggestions.
Christie’s new commission will consider input from former Gov. Jon Corzine’s horse racing commission, which was expanded to include the casino industries because Atlantic City casinos supplement track purses with $30 million annually. That commission will then be dissolved by April 1.
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