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NJ Devils' owner finds himself in the hot-seat

When business relationships change or commitments are unmet, a private company, like a sports team, can find itself involved in a legal mediation to defend claims filed against it by a supporting financial sponsor.

The dispute often attracts media attention and amble opinions defending each side's choices. If communication breaks down between both sides, a commercial lawsuit can be initiated and lead to costly business litigation or arbitration.

In this case, Newark mayor, Corey Booker, made accusations against a former Lehman Brothers' executive for his activities as the owner of the New Jersey Devils, a National Hockey League team. Among other comments, Booker suggested that the Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek failed the city of Newark by not fulfilling obligations that helped the hockey team obtain $200 million in public money for a new arena.

Booker argued that the hockey team owner did not keep promises made to people who supported the building of the arena such as the construction of a recreation center, the creation of youth programs and job training opportunities.

The construction project involved financing about $200 million by taxpayers and about $187 million of financing secured by the hockey team organization.

On the other side of the argument, the leaders of the Devils franchise feel that the mayor isn't being completely honest about the situation and that he is manipulated local laws to punish the group.

Now both sides have opened the door to argue their case in a legal arena if they aren't able to come to an agreement outside of the courtroom.

Source:, "Newark's Booker Says Devils Owner Vanderbeek Betrayed City," Aaron Kuriloff and Trish Regan, April 10, 2012

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