When the Prudential Center in Newark opened last year, it was considered a boon to the fortunes of both Newark and the Devils. For the city, the building represented a step away from a reputation for crime and decay and toward one of growth. The Devils got their own shiny new building, moving them away from the highway rest stop of the Meadowlands and closer to the Rangers in the battle for territorial supremacy.
What looked like a marriage made in heaven is heading for divorce court, though. The team is refusing to pay their first year's rent because of delays in the construction of the building and improvements to the surrounding area. Based on the agreement they signed with the city, the Devils can deduct the amount owed in rent for these delays, which they claim add up to $2.2 million. Their rent for the first year is in the neighborhood of $1.4 million which means the team is demanding nearly $800,000 from the city.
The city, naturally, is denying they owe the Devils anything and point out that the Devils haven't made $1 million in maintenance payments. Nor did the team follow through on getting a hotel built near the arena, something the city says they let go. The city and the team shared the cost of building the arena.
"A good partner in the deal, as we thought we had, would not use that as an excuse not to pay the rent," the city's lead negotiator Richard Monteilh said.
The two sides will either settle on a new amount or go to arbitration. Newark shouldn't be surprised that the Devils are trying to pay less than they owe, that's what good businesses do to make as much money as they can. Far too often sports teams are confused with civic institutions meant to better the area in which they play, which leads to tax money spent to make teams happy while they reap huge amounts of revenue. You wouldn't spend tax money to build a Home Depot, you shouldn't do it to build an arena for teams either.