Jersey Cuts Ticket Holdbacks

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has axed a long-standing tradition of providing state officials with first dibs on premium event tickets.

For years, Izod Center and Meadowlands operator New Jersey Sports & Exhibition Authority and the Turnpike Authority, which owns the PNC Bank Arts Center, adhered to a policy that held back large numbers of tickets to be given away or purchased at face value by officials.

Jeffrey Chiesa, counsel for Gov. Christie, told the Star-Ledger the perk was recently found to be in violation of the state ethics code and said seats for future events that were being held should be turned over to the box office and sold to the public.

“The public can now be assured of having the same access to those seats, under the same market conditions as anyone else, no matter who they work for,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said. “The prior policy had been in place for many years and set a bad example. And frankly, it led people to believe that the playing field for tickets was not level. Times have changed, and it was time to end this practice.”

But while officials will no longer have the opportunity to purchase premium holdbacks, they will be able to use private skyboxes at the Izod Center and Meadowlands Stadium.

Drewniak said the luxury boxes give the governor a place to entertain VIPs and help promote business in the state.

“The boxes obviously provide entertainment but serve legitimate business, government and political functions as well,” Drewniak said. “Dignitaries, promoters and vendors, political figures, including political opponents, and others would be expected to use the boxes.”

Still, it appears that Christie isn’t the only one benefiting from the boxes. Members of his staff and other officials have scored box tickets for personal use in the past, a practice that IRS audit guidelines have reportedly called taxable income.