Flame War In Jersey

In the latest volley between the New Jersey Devils and Newark Mayor Corey Booker, the NHL team’s managing partner says he now regrets bringing the team to town.

Jeff Vanderbeek told the Star-Ledger of Newark that friends warned him not to invest $185 million to help the city build the Prudential Center.

Booker has criticized Vanderbeek after arbitrators ruled April 3 largely in favor of the Devils in an ongoing dispute over shared arena proceeds.

Booker called Vanderbeek a “high-class, highfalutin’ huckster and hustler” and “one of the most despicable owners” in the NHL.

Vanderbeek called the remarks unfair and accused Booker of political grandstanding.

“In maybe a year-and-a-half, he’s trying to undo six years of being this outsider because he may have to get elected mayor again,” Vanderbeek told the Star-Ledger. “I’m the most convenient target.”

Booker had previously praised Vanderbeek as a “lifelong partner” to the city, who had created a “community center” with the arena. Vanderbeek took note of the change of heart.

“You have a mayor saying to business, ‘You come in and I’ll cut you a deal,’” Vanderbeek told the paper. “But if I don’t like you in a couple of years, or if something happens, or if I get up on the wrong side of the bed, you know what? I’m coming after you.”

Despite the flame war, Vanderbeek says he is “still open to doing anything that will benefit the city of Newark.”