The New Jersey Devils are again skating on very thin financial ice, The Post has learned. The team’s cash-strapped owner, less than six months after restructuring its debt, has missed an interest payment and now risks defaulting on its new loan, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said. The latest financial blow-up at Devils Arena Entertainment — a missed interest payment in April of nearly $3 million — has surprised those close to the once-proud NHL franchise. “How can you do a restructuring Dec. 31 and default in April?” the source said. “It’s astounding.” Devils Arena, which also operates the Prudential Center, the team’s home arena in Newark, owes lenders roughly $170 million. At the end of 2012, Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek struck a deal to refinance the team’s debt and buy out his partners, ending months of wrangling. The agreement, which combined the debt of the team with that of Devils Arena Entertainment, was aimed at giving him two years to stabilize the finances. Buoyed by the hard-fought restructuring, Vanderbeek was quoted on Jan. 3, saying, “Our future is now secure, and we can be confident of continued on-ice success.” That doesn’t seem to be the case. The combination of the 113-day lockout, which forced the coughing up of some sponsorship cash, and the team’s failure to make the playoffs blurred the financial picture. What’s more, Vanderbeek has until only this summer — not until 2015 — to sort out the problems, sources said. The team is looking to raise as much as $20 million by selling a minority stake and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who is smack dab in the middle of the league’s marquee event, the Stanley Cup Finals, must dedicate some energy to help accomplish that goal, sources said. While Vanderbeek’s attempts recently to sell a minority stake in the team failed, some close to the situation said last week’s settlement of a years-long spat between the arena and Newark over revenue-sharing, taxes and monies reportedly owed the team by the city, would help such an equity sale.
Devils again sliding into financial mess due to missed interest payment
New York Post | Jun 17