A lawsuit filed by the Star-Ledger against the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) seeking the release of certain contracts for public inspection got a boost yesterday from U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), who wrote directly to concert promoter Live Nation requesting that they release their contracts with authority. The newspaper is alleging that the NJSEA is not fulfilling their obligation under the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA).
A Star-Ledger report today acknowledged their legal action against the NJSEA for the first time, and revealed that “depositions taken as part of the lawsuit have revealed that the authority entered into a written incentive agreement about two years ago with Live Nation to make sure it kept booking acts in the Meadowlands.”
“Several promoters in certifications made to the court at the behest of the sports authority claimed release of their contracts with the authority would put them at a competitive disadvantage,” Star-Ledger reporter Ted Sherman wrote. “Yet contracts with those same promoters with other public venues around the country were quickly released under public records requests made by The Star-Ledger.”
In a letter to Irving Azoff, the chairman of the Live Nation/Ticketmaster company, Pascrell said that as a state agency, the NJSEA “has a responsibility to the taxpayers of New Jersey, especially in light of recent reports that the NJSEA may need to seek several million dollars in aid from the state in order to stay afloat.”
“The multi-year contractual relationships that the NJSEA has with your company are of utmost importance to the financial health of the Authority. However, despite recent attempts by members of the press to obtain the details of these contracts through New Jersey’s Open Records Act, the Authority has refused, citing contractual privilege,” Pascrell wrote. In approving the recent merger that created Live Nation Entertainment, the Department of Justice and the American people placed a great deal of faith in your company to operate in a way that is open and transparent. I can think of no better way for you to honor that commitment than by releasing the details of these contracts to the people of New Jersey.”