The New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA), already the subject of a review of its ticket policies, is finding itself under scrutiny again, this time for ticket deals with the New York Jets and Giants for games this coming season at the new Meadowlands Stadium.
The authority is reportedly paying nearly $1.1 million combined for hundreds of tickets to see the two teams play in the new stadium, tickets that will be sold to state politicians, sponsors and other VIPs, which is part of the NJSEA’s long-standing policy. Out of the $1.1 million, hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on personal seat licenses for both teams, some of which were for premium seats.
The authority does not own or operate the new Meadowlands, nor does it own other venues in the state but it does manage several of them, such as the Izod Center.
At issue is the cost of the deals, particularly at a time when the state is grappling with a severe budget crunch, and when the authority is seeking more than $30 million from the state to plug its own fiscal deficit, according to Bloomberg News Service.
Mike Drewniak, spokesperson for Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement that the governor said the ticket deals were “astonishingly bad [decisions] that we will now have to fix.” Drewniak did not elaborate on what that “fix” might be, and he did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The current review of the NJSEA’s ticket policies is slated to be completed late next month.
Christie, who has been fiscally conservative since taking office, was not alone in his criticism of the plan. “These are the kind of shenanigans we need to guard against,” Democratic State Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono, in a show of bipartisan support, told Bloomberg. “It seems not only an unnecessary and unwise expense, but wholly inappropriate given the amount of money they are seeking from the state.”
Earlier in the year, the NJSEA drew the ire of some state officials for alleged preferential treatment it gave members of former Gov. Jon Corzine’s office for Bruce Springsteen tickets in 2009.
Authority spokesperson John Samerjan has said in the past that the NJSEA is up front about what it does with tickets. “We understand that people get frustrated, but this has been an open book for 33 years,” he told TicketNews earlier in the year. He did not immediately return a message seeking comment today, May 27, but he told Bloomberg that the tickets help the authority attract businesses for other deals, and that a service fee on the tickets will help it recoup the costs.