Devils Arena Secured

With a last-minute $100 million letter of credit from the New Jersey Devils, the city of Newark now expects to open a new arena in less than two years.

The city and the Devils broke ground on the $310 million, 18,000-seat venue in October. But even as bulldozers and cranes cleared the 14-acre site, Newark officials demanded the team produce a written guarantee before proceeding with construction. Newark business administrator Richard Monteilh said if the money hadn’t come through by the afternoon of January 24th, the city could have nixed the project.

“Let this definitive and final agreement leave no doubt that the New Jersey Devils will start the 2007-08 season,” Devils principal owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek said. “This means the Devils are satisfied that the city of Newark will fulfill its obligation.”

Newark has committed $210 million to the arena, which is scheduled to open in 2007. The city has already spent $22 million for redevelopment costs, including environmental remediation, clearing the land and demolishing old buildings, according to Monteilh.

The Devils currently play at the Meadowlands’ Continental Airlines Arena. Its fellow tenant, basketball’s Nets, are expected to move to a new venue in Brooklyn, N.Y. That project has local opposition and if it falls through, the Nets could join the Devils in Newark, Vanderbeek said.