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Jets and Giants settle suits over American Dream complex at Meadowlands

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Jets and Giants settle suits over American Dream complex at Meadowlands


Tuesday, March 11, 2014 Last updated: Tuesday March 11, 2014, 9:48 PM




A settlement has been reached in the 2-year legal battle between the Giants and Jets and the company that wants to build the American Dream complex at the Meadowlands, a step that officials said Tuesday paves the way for work to begin again on the project once known as Xanadu.


Terms of the tentative deal were not made available because the settlement was marked “confidential” by all parties, according to a clerk for Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne.


But Jon F. Hanson, Governor Christie’s adviser on sports and entertainment projects in the state, said that he now anticipates that Triple Five “will commence construction almost immediately” — finishing the existing structures at the long-dormant site and starting work on indoor water and amusement parks that the company wants to add to the complex.


Jim Kirkos, the president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, said that a resumption of work at the American

Dream site would have far-reaching consequences for other development in the area.


“The moment that work starts is really like a red flag going down and a green flag going up,” Kirkos said. “It’s a signal that perhaps we’re past all the past difficulties of the project.”


The two football teams had sought an injunction from Doyne, sitting in Bergen County, to prevent Triple Five from resuming construction. They maintained that the company’s plans to add the year-round parks would adversely affect game-day traffic at MetLife Stadium, just across Route 120 from the planned entertainment and retail complex.


A year later, Triple Five responded with its own lawsuit against the teams, seeking damages for an alleged “malicious public relations campaign against the project” designed to preserve the teams’ monopoly at the site while scaring off potential lenders from investing.


Stipulations noting “a settlement agreement” were filed Monday, “without prejudice,” giving each side the right to revive legal action should the deal break down.


Neither Triple Five nor the teams had anything to say about the tentative deal Tuesday and its terms could not be learned.


But the agreement could possibly spell out some degree of limitation on American Dream operations on days that either the Jets or Giants have home games as well as on the occasions when concerts or international soccer matches are held at MetLife Stadium. The 82,000-seat stadium — the site of this year’s Super Bowl — is owned and operated by the two National Football League franchises.


Financial compensation could also be part of the deal, as it was in 2006 when the developer of Xanadu agreed to pay $15 million in exchange for the teams’ signoff on allowing that incarnation of the project to go forward.


Both sides had differed widely on the degree of game-day traffic likely to be generated by American Dream, with Triple Five saying that there would be little impact and the teams describing it as a potential nightmare for their fans.


Triple Five first emerged nearly three years ago as a prospective developer of the Xanadu site, which has sat idle since 2009, saying it would bring the region a destination for international tourists and provide thousands of jobs, first for construction workers and then for people in the retail and entertainment industries.


Christie has been a key ally, championing the project as a key to economic development, support that won him the endorsement of some organized labor unions in his bid for reelection. Christie has also said that a resumption of work would help change the patchwork color scheme of what he has called “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America.”


A spokesman for Christie did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.


Even with the agreement, there are still issues that remain to be resolved for American Dream.


Representatives of Triple Five, the owner of the Mall of America in Minnesota, have estimated that $1.9 billion in financing is needed to complete their vision of the project. They have preliminary approval from East Rutherford, Bergen County, and state officials for a bond offering that would provide up to $800 million of that amount in public financing backed by revenues generated at the site and not tax dollars. Most of the rest is to come from private lenders.


East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella called the settlement “good news.”


“Now that this Jets/Giants thing is done, obviously Triple Five has to get settled with us and the [bergen County Improvement Authority],” Cassella said. “But I think their next hurdle is the private lenders. I think they need to get that in place before we in East Rutherford do anything.”


The borough still is negotiating with Triple Five on several issues, including insurance against potential litigation and reimbursement for emergency service calls.


“We’re slowly moving along, and we’re getting closer,” Cassella said. “Certainly the settlement, if it is true, I think that will accelerate the process.”


Hanson said also that New Jersey officials are looking to negotiate a “financial participation agreement” with Triple Five to give the state a chance to share in profits generated on the project. He added that he does “not anticipate that will slow down the construction.”


State Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge called the deal “another step toward revitalization of the project.”


“It’s a shame that we didn’t have the project open for the Super Bowl,” said Sarlo. “But with the spring weather today, I hope that signals a restart of construction there.”


The project, first approved as Xanadu by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority in February 2003, is not expected to open before the end of 2015. Work stopped at the site in March 2009 when, with nearly $2 billion spent, a key lender balked at providing more funding to one of two previous developers.


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That's what I'm hoping for. Even though it's a longer drive than Great Adventure for me, if I could ride coasters in the winter I'd probably go there a couple of times each year during the offseason.

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Well I live about 25-30 mins from the Meadowlands but about an hour and 15 mins away from SFGadv so having a park, especially an indoor year-round park near me would be great! Since the only park currently in northern NJ is Bowcraft another more substantial one in this part of the state would be welcomed by me.

Edited by RC98
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