This week in Tony Soprano-dom

More hurdles abound for the long planned theft of the New Jersey Nets, despite a sweetheart deal with the MTA.

Mr. Ratner’s highest hurdle may be in securing tax-exempt financing, which would reduce his borrowing costs by tens of millions of dollars. If he fails to meet the Dec. 31 deadline, Mr. Ratner would have a short grace period to secure more expensive conventional financing, but most officials and bankers say that that is unlikely given the still frozen state of the credit markets.Atlantic Yards could collapse if that happens.

"In the event they are unable to secure financing under those terms," said Gary Dellaverson, chief financial officer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, "the agreement is no longer valid and the M.T.A. would have to decide what to do with the property."

Not only is another arena not viable, but there are too many as is.

"Five arenas is not going to work," said Mark S. Rosentraub, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan. "I don’t think four works, even in a market as large as New York. There’s competition in every direction and there aren’t enough events."

In light of this news, it's little surprise that the franchise is likely on the block again.

"It's all up to negotiation," said the source, emphasizing that all the interest is based on the promise of the Nets' long-anticipated move from New Jersey to Brooklyn.

I don't see how that is plausible given that Wall Street isn't that keen at giving away other people's money for frivolous sinkholes at the moment. The only realistic option is for the Nets to join the Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark, under local ownership, run as an end in themselves, instead of an afterthought in an overblown real estate scheme gone south.

Meanwhile, the slime in Izod is far from the most rotten creature currently residing in the Meadowlands Complex. That would be its similarly unneeded, fellow speculation bubble mutant offspring, Xanadu. Fox 5 in New York ran an expose (click for video) on the struggling Xanadu Project several weeks back.

There is a mystery at Xanadu. Human feces was found in the entertainment complex. A labor leader tells Nevins-Taylor that he believes a group or one person or a few are sabotaging the job. Documents Fox 5 News obtained show state inspectors cited Xanadu for unsafe and unsanitary conditions with fixtures filled with human waste on several levels. They found buckets have been used as urinals throughout the complex.

Angry laid-off workers may not be the culprit. A representative for the Building and Construction Trades Council says "it's very controversial and there are people who feel that it (the complex) shouldn't be there."

The culprit certainly shares my (and really, most residents of the New York City metropolitan area) sentiment, although his form of protest is almost as sickening as the sheer force of corruption necessary to get Xanadu off the ground in the first place.

And, I don't believe our beloved Mr. Soprano would even stoop this low. If anything, I'm libelling Tony with this comparison.

Plans call for a giant ferris wheel like one in London. But state inspectors are questioning the design of the footing the pedestals for the giant wheel are in. They fear it's too close to the NJ Turnpike. They are worried about an accident and evacuation procedures for people on the wheel. Public access underneath to the wheel is also problematic.

Fox 5 asked a construction safety expert to take a look. He says if a tanker truck or something catches fire or explodes, you could have those fumes blowing into the ferris wheel. And there is always the possibility that something from the ferris wheel could drop.

But that's not all! Wondering about New Jersey's new economic stimulus bill? Well, (emphasis mine)

Critics of the bill say it lets Elizabeth and Newark add a 5 percent local tax on rental cars, allows Trenton to add a $2 surcharge to admission tickets and parking fees at Sovereign Bank Arena, gives tax breaks to a Gerdau Ameristeel facility in Sayreville and Campbell's Soup Co. headquarters in Camden and exempts the big Xanadu and Giants Stadium projects in the Meadowlands from developer fees.

New Jersey can't pay its bills, yet turns around and squanders precious revenue.

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