In recent months, New Jersey’s elected officials have come under fire over the issue of event tickets being held back and sold expressly to them, which prompted Gov. Chris Christie last week to order that policy eliminated. Now, only days after that mandate was issued, comes news that state officials still have access to luxury boxes at some venues.
Members of Gov. Christie’s office have free access to luxury boxes at the new Meadowlands Stadium, the nearby Izod Center and other facilities for official state business.
“There are two suites provided at no cost in the New Stadium, as there were in Giants Stadium,” John Samerjan, spokes person for the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) told TicketNews. “One for the Governor’s use and one [for the] NJSEA.”
Last week, in a move to stop favoritism in the legislature, particularly when the state is facing huge fiscal deficits, Gov. Christie called a halt on the NJSEA providing dozens of tickets that state officials could purchase for games and concerts. The tickets had been available to the officials but were never available to the public.
“The public can now be assured of having the same access to those seats, under the same market conditions, as anyone else, no matter who they work for,” Gov. Christie’s spokesperson Michael Drewniak said in a statement. “The prior policy had been in place for many years and set a bad example. And, frankly, it led people to believe that the playing field for tickets was not level. Times have changed, and it was time to end this practice.”
Gov. Christie’s office was quick to make a distinction between the seats that were held back for state officials – “house seats” – and the Governor’s luxury boxes, which were negotiated by prior governors.
“The boxes obviously provide entertainment but serve legitimate business, government and political functions as well. Dignitaries, promoters and vendors, political figures, including political opponents, and others would be expected to use the boxes,” Drewniak told TicketNews in a statement, adding that governors in other states have similar access to luxury boxes, such as Indiana Gov Mitch Daniels, who hosted Christie in a suite at Lucas Oil Stadium for an Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets playoff game this past January.
“As the Chief Executive of the State, the Governor and he alone has the primary responsibility for hosting other dignitaries – from in and out of state – and showcasing our state and promoting business for New Jersey and for the venues themselves. By contrast, the beneficiaries of the house seats – for example, legislators – do not have that responsibility, nor can they effectively use the house seats to further those business efforts.”