NJ Gov’s Closure of Stadium Benefits Donor, People with Close Ties to Administration

International Business Times: “Now another piece of business has emerged to explain the Cowboys owner’s eagerness to share the New Jersey governor’s company. [Chris] Christie administration’s move this week to shutter the Izod Center, the Meadowlands arena that holds sporting events and concerts, could boost prospects for Jones’ business at a competing New Jersey arena, the Prudential Center in Newark. That boost could simultaneously benefit the firm of Christie’s top stadium policy adviser. And the closing of the Izod Center appears also to be a financial boon to a big donor to the Republican Governors Association, which Christie chaired and which backed Christie’s election campaigns.”

“The interwoven relationships begin with the Prudential Center. The private facility is owned by financial executive Josh Harris, who has made $50,000 worth of contributions to the RGA since 2010. Only a few months before the Christie administration shuttered the state-owned Izod Center, Harris hired Jim Leonard as a top Prudential Center executive. Leonard came to the job after serving as chief of staff of the Christie administration’s Treasury Department, which was consulted during the deliberations over the Izod Center.

“In mid-2014, Harris’ Prudential Center announced it had given a multiyear contract to Legends Hospitality LLC to run concession services at the facility. That means the more business that comes to the Prudential Center as a result of the Izod Center closure, the more potential revenues for Legends’ owners, including Jerry Jones and Yankee Global Enterprises.

“The Prudential Center’s connection to Yankee Global Enterprises through Legends is worth noting: The Christie stadium policy adviser who pushed the state to consider closing the Izod Center, Jon Hanson, currently serves as the director of Yankee Global Enterprises. Hanson also served from 2001 to 2011 on the board of Prudential Financial, which owns the naming rights to the Prudential Center. He also was Christie’s finance chairman on both of his campaigns for governor.”

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