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Codey Statement On Executive Order On Sports And Entertainment

TRENTON – Senator Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, a long-time proponent of the State’s horse racing industry and sponsor of the legislation authorizing casinos in Atlantic City in the 1970s, issued the following statement regarding Governor Christie’s executive order issued today to create a panel of industry experts to fix New Jersey’s ailing sports, gaming and entertainment industries:

“I applaud the Governor for taking this first necessary step to ensure the future viability of New Jersey’s sports, gaming and entertainment industries.

“Whether it’s the Meadowlands Sports Complex, the Prudential Center in Newark, the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, Monmouth Park and other horse racing tracks around the State, or Atlantic City’s casino industry, combined, these facilities generate billions of dollars in economic activity for the State of New Jersey. We have to identify an economic strategy that keeps these entertainment locations fresh and competitive against new gaming opportunities in neighboring states.

“The Commission created by Governor Christie’s executive order has to focus on the good of the entire state, and put aside regional concerns and viewpoints. Parochialism should have no place at the table, and we should recognize that a thriving Statewide sports, entertainment and gaming industry is beneficial for everybody.

“We need to identify the successes of the past, and figure out how to capitalize on them moving forward. In particular, if you look at the move in Atlantic City, from a casino destination to a resort destination with successful projects like the Borgata and the major renovations and upgrades at the Harrah’s properties, you recognize we have the tools and ability already at our disposal to stay ahead of competition from Pennsylvania and Delaware. We need to continue to foster the evolution of Atlantic City through creative State investment incentives and other programs designed to bring America’s Playground into the 21st century.

“We cannot allow the horse racing industry to die a quiet death. You’re looking at an industry that generates more than $1 billion for New Jersey’s economy and preserves acres upon acres of open space, and those funds and preservation opportunities will go elsewhere without State support. We must look for new ways to invigorate horse racing, or else forfeit those funds to neighboring states.

“And as far as Xanadu goes, if the project can come up with a serious, viable financial plan and prove that it can get onto sound fiscal footing, it should be fully supported by anyone and everyone in public life. However, there has to be a deadline set where developers are told either to fish or cut bait, and if they can’t line up the financial security to move forward, the State should step in and make alternate plans for the site, even if that means tearing down the existing structure and starting over with a new business model. New Jersey has waited too long, and it’s put-up or shut-up time for Xanadu’s developers.

“Overall, I think this is a great opportunity to come up with new ideas and a new game plan to boost the State’s gaming, entertainment and sports industries. I look forward to doing whatever I can to make the Commission’s review a success, and look forward to their recommendations to keep New Jersey’s competitive edge in the Northeast region and throughout the nation.”