TRENTON – State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) yesterday filed a complaint in Superior Court in Bergen County seeking to require the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) to turn over records related to the authority’s “hurried and legally noncompliant decision” to close the Izod Center.
“The Sports Authority commissioners voted to close the Izod Center with no notice to the public or the Legislature, and to date the authority has failed to provide the documents on which they based their decision,” said Weinberg in a written statement issued on Tuesday. “This is unacceptable. My requests sought public information, including financial documents, that should have been provided to board members in advance of their vote. The fact that two months have passed since I filed requests for public documents creates even more suspicion about the already secretive process undertaken by the authority. This complaint is an attempt to compel the NJSEA to turn over these documents as required by law.”
The complaint was filed under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) in response to the authority’s failure to respond to two separate OPRA requests by the senator for public documents related to the decision to close the Izod Center including: financial information, meeting minutes, transcripts, emails and other documents where Izod closing was discussed, and communications with the state Treasury Department related to the decision to close the facility.
The senator is also seeking documents and communications related to the discussion of a sponsorship agreement between the Izod Center and the Prudential Center, the Prudential Center’s planned donation of New Jersey Devils tickets to charities selected by the Prudential Center in consultation with NJSEA and any discussion related to the Izod Center closings that also leveraged certain promises the Prudential Center may have made to the City of Newark.
The NJSEA, without public warning or notice, voted on January 15 to close the Izod Center. A week prior to the vote, the authority entered into an agreement with the Devils Arena Entertainment LLC to transition Izod Center events to the Prudential Center in Newark. The records requests were filed on Jan. 16, one day after the vote to close the facility, and on Jan. 21.
Bergen County Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne signed an order today requiring the NJSEA to respond to the complaint by March 30 and to appear in court on the matter on April 24.