Devils Owner Returns Fire

New Jersey Devils Chairman and Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek has addressed public criticisms of him spouted by Newark Mayor Cory Booker regarding an ongoing financial dispute between the city and the NHL team.

Booker’s remarks during an April 4 press conference came after an arbitration panel ruled the city owes the Devils $2.7 million a year in parking revenues under a 2005 agreement between the parties that reportedly wasn’t formally approved. The team hasn’t paid rent for its home at the Prudential Center since it opened in 2007 because of the parking revenue dispute.

The mayor accused Vanderbeek of being a “Grade-A huckster” who arrived in Newark with “a mouthful of promises and a pocketful of lies,” specifically an alleged promise to build a community center near the arena that hasn’t happened.

Vanderbeek said Booker’s accusations surprised and concerned him.

“It’s concerning that after choosing to take the Prudential Center to court and then have the court ruling that they needed to go to arbitration, and taking it to arbitration, that after that ruling the mayor chooses to not obey the law of the land but seems to be following Booker law,” Vanderbeek said,

“Our concern is that in a city like Newark where we are trying to set a platform to draw private business in, that businesses are going to think twice when they think about the risk of coming into Newark.”