(East Rutherford, NJ) For six-and-a-half years, Mayor James Cassella has been criticizing the lease arrangement in the Meadowlands negotiated by former Acting Gov. Richard Codey. At last, he says, he has an ally in his fight to bring scrutiny to the agreement – and he couldn’t have asked for a better one –Gov. Chris Christie.
Yesterday, Gov. Christie criticized the deal Codey negotiated with the National Football League teams — the NY Giants and NY Jets – to keep them in the Meadowlands.
The governor, responding to questions about the delay in completing the American Dream Mall in time for the Super Bowl in 2014 criticized the powers given to the Jets and Giants by the Codey Administration that has allowed the teams to hold up completion of the mall by threatening legal action. The teams maintain they have the final say over what gets built near MetLife Stadium.
The governor said: This is the legacy of the [Governor] Codey administration and the awful deal they made, in terms of the deal with the teams to build that stadium. And anybody who was involved with the deal at the time knew it was a bad deal, except for Senator Codey. And in the aftermath, we’ve had any number of people – people who represent the areas up here and people from other parts of the state, who are very displeased with the deal.
Cassella said he couldn’t be happier that the governor has recognized how bad the arrangement is and is saying so publicly.
“For six-and-a-half years I have been saying that the deal negotiated by then Acting Gov. Codey was a sellout. He gave away the store to placate the football teams and took away any bargaining positions of the New Jersey Sports Authority or the municipality,” said Cassella.
“I’m glad Gov. Christie recognizes that the Codey Administration made a horrible deal, and unfortunately that deal is now holding up the biggest development project in Bergen County history.
“If I had my way, the deal would be torn up tomorrow and a new, fairer deal negotiated,” added the mayor. “It is simply atrocious and people involved in the negotiations tried to tell him that, but they were ignored.
Cassella added that no one in East Rutherford was consulted on the deal, “but we have had to live with it ever since.”
Cassella said the deal requires the Jets and Giants to pay little more than $6 million a year in taxes on a billion dollar stadium and the Giants’ practice facility – the Timex Center.
The agreement also allows the teams to keep all the revenue for naming rights of their facilities, and all the parking money for a facility that is on property owned by the state. The teams also get advertising revenue generated by the nearby race track.
“I’m not criticizing the teams for the agreement; Sen. Codey gave them a deal that was simply too good to turn down. He didn’t stand up at all for the people of Bergen County or the state. He caved in to threats that the teams would leave the area, and I doubt those threats were remotely real,” said Cassella.
“This is one of the worst agreements ever entered into by the State of New Jersey and I’m sure it would have never happened under Gov. Christie’s administration.”
The mayor, whose community has been preparing for the opening of the American Dream Mall — and invested millions to prepare for the mall’s opening – and the Super Bowl – says he wants to see mall issued resolved quickly.
“We didn’t ask for the mall in our back yard, but now that it’s here, it needs to get completed as soon as possible and our community needs to begin deriving some benefit for hosting the mega complex,” said Cassella.