Devils Skating On Thin Ice

The New Jersey Devils hockey team is going head to head with the city of Newark over unpaid bills.

It seems the city and the Newark Housing Authority, which owns the team’s home Prudential Center, have been trying to get the Devils to pay for the arena’s sewer installation and some business relocation costs since the opening of the venue last October, according to the city’s Star-Ledger.

So far, those efforts have proved fruitless, and one city councilor has had it.

The Devils reportedly owe the city more than $41,000 for the installation of sewer lines at the $365-million Prudential Center, and councilman Augusto Amador told the paper the city should take action if the team keeps dodging responsibilities.

“If they continue not to pay, I’m sure we’ll consider … shutting off the water, just like any normal business entity in the city,” Amador said. “Enough is enough.”

The fight over relocation costs for displaced businesses is even pricier.

The Housing Authority argues that since the city put up $220 million to build the arena and $85 million more to spruce up surrounding areas, the team should foot the $750,000 bill for moving the businesses, the Star-Ledger reported.

But team owner Jeff Vanderbeek told the paper some of the bills are bogus, and the Devils won’t be tricked into paying for businesses that don’t meet the guidelines for reimbursement.

“They want us to just close our eyes and make the payments – not going to happen,” Vanderbeek said. “We’re trying to help out, to save the city of Newark and the housing authority vast sums of money.”

The team previously announced it wouldn’t be handing the Housing Authority its $2 million to $6 million rent check for this year following construction delays, according to the paper, and it’s unclear where that leaves things standing.

Ellen Harris, the Housing Authority’s chief legal officer, told the Star-Ledger the team’s been ordered to pay at least $2.4 million in rent, along with the sewer bills and relocation costs.

“We expect the Devils to live up to their responsibility as custodians of public money and make payment,” Harris said.