Devils, Newark agree to new lease that shuffles money around like crazy

It’s been a while since we dropped in on the New Jersey Devils and their refusal to pay rent on their taxpayer-built arena because they said it wasn’t finished on time. But now we can rejoice, for an agreement has been reached for a new lease that all parties claim should make everyone happy:

  • Newark will build a new parking deck next to the municipal courthouse (cost not detailed in the reporting), and the Devils will rent a guaranteed number of spaces (payments not detailed). The city will also pay the team $2.7 million a year from parking revenue for other lots near the arena.
  • Newark will impose a 1.37% tax surcharge on tickets to all games of the Devils, Seton Hall University, and New York Liberty (for as long as they play in Newark, which is about three more months until Madison Square Garden is done being renovated), plus a $1.25 per ticket fee on concerts that it will share with the team.
  • The Newark parking authority will take over from the Newark housing authority as arena landlord.

And let’s see, there had to be something else … oh, right, all that unpaid back rent! As it turns out, a panel of arbitrators ruled last year that the amount the city owed to the Devils owners (that share of parking revenue, plus money for an arena capital fund) is more than the team owed the city, so no back rent for you, Newark. City officials told that they should see about $2 million in new revenues from the ticket taxes and new garage, but it’s not clear whether that accounts for the cost of building the parking deck and the loss of future parking revenues from last year’s ruling.

Without more numbers, then, all we can conclude is: Newark got hosed when it built the arena, agreed to a lease that caused it to get hosed again last year, and now has agreed to a new lease that may or may not have reduced its hosing somewhat. But at least it now has a hockey team on sound financial footing … oh.

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