The official announcement will come in a Prudential Center news conference at a 11 a.m. Thursday that a controlling ownership share in the New Jersey Devils and the lucrative operating rights for the arena have been sold to a group headed by investment banker Joshua Harris multiple sources told The Record.

An individual with knowledge of the sale agreement said Harris’s group will pay “more than $320 million” a stunning price for a team that has been mired in debt.
Harris and his primary partner David Blitzer are also part of the group that purchased the Philadelphia 76ers for a reported $280 million in 2011.

The last remaining hurdle in the Devils’ sale which progressed quickly over the last week was cleared Wednesday when the NHL’s Board of Governors completed its vote to approve the transfer from outgoing principal owner Jeff Vanderbeek to Harris’ group a source said.
Vanderbeek will retain a small minority ownership stake and a role in the organization. Lou Lamoriello who has been with the team since 1987 is expected to remain CEO president and general manager.

The sale price will cover the approximately $200 million in debts the Devils and Devils’ Arena Entertainment have accumulated and still leave Vanderbeek with a significant surplus.
Forbes magazine valued the Devils at $205 million in November of 2012 but team sources have long contended that Forbes underestimated the team’s worth.

Vanderbeek and his former partners with Brick City LLC (Ray Chambers and Mike Gilfillan) and Peter Simon purchased the Devils from Puck Holdings (a subsidiary of the defunct YankeeNets) in 2004 for a reported $125 million. That was roughly $50 million less than Puck Holdings paid in 2000 to acquire them from original New Jersey owner John McMullen who moved the franchise from Colorado in 1982.

Vanderbeek and his former partners were the driving forces behind getting Prudential Center built and the Newark arena which opened in October of 2007 is the main reason for team’s considerable increase in value. The building was likely also the biggest lure to the new owners who are looking to establish a foothold in the New Jersey/New York sports market.

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