EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The chief executive of the New Jersey Devils wants the state to help build an arena in Newark to keep the Stanley Cup champions in the Garden State after their Meadowlands lease expires in 2007.
The request Thursday by Lou Lamoriello came less than 24 hours
after the owners of the New Jersey Nets announced they had reached
an agreement to sell the NBA franchise and move it to Brooklyn.
"I think it is a very positive thing that will result into
something extremely positive," Lamoriello said of the Nets'
proposed move, which still must be approved by the NBA.
The Nets and Devils, co-tenants at the Continental Airlines
Arena for more than two decades, had planned to move to Newark, but
the funding for a planned new arena fell through.
Lamoriello, who maintained his comments were his personal
opinion and not those of the organization, would not say who would
provide the money for a new arena in the state's largest city.
"Knowing that the Devils need a new building and knowing the
Devils' lease expires in 2007, this is proactive to the Devils
staying here, which is what they want to do for long-term,"
The Devils have not considered leaving New Jersey, Lamoriello
Renovating the current arena was not a solution, Lamoriello
said, noting those changes did not address the team's need for
luxury suites and other amenities that generate big profits.
Lamoriello said that Gov. James E. McGreevey has satisfied North
Bergen interests by signing off on the Xanadu sports, retail and
entertainment project at the Meadowlands and that now he has an
opportunity to help revitalize Newark.
"It's not the governor's fault the Nets made the decision to
leave," said Lamoriello. "There was nothing he could have done to
Lamoriello blamed foot-dragging by previous administrations for
causing the Newark Arena project to fail.
"I think if we had a new facility with the shovel in the hole
two years ago, the potential sale would never have come about,"
said Lamoriello, who ran both the Devils and Nets for YankeeNets,
the sports conglomerate that owned both teams until recently.
Lamoriello felt certain the Nets, the two-time defending Eastern
Conference champions, would move to Brooklyn.
"They have it done as far as I understand," Lamoriello said.
Lamoriello said it would take about 2½ years to complete an
arena. He said the current architectural plans would not have to be
He also said a one-team arena would help the Devils. It would
allow them to take all the choice dates, and they would also benefit
by drawing some old Nets' fans into their fold.
Lamoriello would not say what would happen if the Devils didn't
get a new arena.
"I don't speak as if there is threat," Lamoriello said. "That
is not the point here. The point is, we all know the new facility