Meadowlands Regional Chamber releases vision for global sports & entertainment destination

RUTHERFORD, NJ – FEBRUARY 28, 2011 – With a goal of regaining its status as the world’s leading multi-venue sports and entertainment complex, the Meadowlands Regional Chamber has released a concept plan for the continued redevelopment of the Meadowlands Sports Complex that will include a casino, convention center, hotels, entertainment and sports facilities.

Conceptualized in collaboration with Chamber members including Parsons Brinckerhoff, the component facilities will total about 2.5 million square feet and generate more than 15,000 construction jobs and 25,000 permanent jobs while preserving New Jersey’s racing industry and increasing its allure as a worldwide destination.

“We have everything we need to succeed except an active plan,” says Jim Kirkos, chief executive of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber and the Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau.  “The Meadowlands Sports Complex is an entity crying for strategic business thinking but often thwarted by political considerations.”

“The relevance of our facilities has degraded shamefully because for too long we had no business plan to maintain our market relevance.  But we have a chance to recover because the infrastructure around our site and its inherent location advantages are extraordinary.  In a state desperate for tax revenues and job growth, we have no excuse except to maximize the value of this critical asset for economic impact to both the region and the state of NJ.”

The Vision uses available space and transportation assets to introduce facilities known to be in demand in the region:

Resort Casino.  Manhattan and North Jersey gamblers have more than 30 casino choices within 4 hours, but none that could compete with the caliber of a facility located as conveniently as the Meadowlands.

Convention Center/ Athletic Center.  As an economic engine, the Meadowlands needs complimentary facilities that draw visitors from around the country to spend new dollars in New Jersey.  A dual convention center / youth and amateur athletic center would fuel Sports Complex venues, including Xanadu, as well as regional destination assets especially those in local downtown districts.

New Racing Facility.  Replacing the Big M with a modern and more efficient facility that is consistent with contemporary racing, connecting it to other gaming options.

Aquatics Center.  A world class swimming and diving venue that could be coupled with a home for the Meadowlands YMCA, which for 90+ years has been the “Y Without Walls” despite serving more than 9000 local families.

Each of these facilities would benefit from the recent addition of the New Jersey Transit rail link that provides 23-minute service to and from Penn Station in New York.  The line has a capacity of 10,000 passenger trips per hour, providing an efficient mass transportation option to the complex.

The Chamber’s 2040 Council, which focuses on creating economic development strategies, and its Convention and Visitors Bureau arm have been developing aspects of the Vision for more than a year.

“The Chamber has served the region for close to 40 years so we take a very long view of our public advocacy positions,” says Mr. Kirkos.  “In this case, we felt that it was best that the Xanadu development be resolved prior to us issuing a vision for the rest of the site.

“However, in the interim we find that some of the dialogue around redevelopment of the Meadowlands Sports Complex has lacked comprehensive thinking.  There is no reason for the future of the Meadowlands to be postponed while Atlantic City works out of its troubles.  Even if the State were to start right now issuing RFP’s, it would take at least four years to open any one of the facilities we have proposed. Atlantic City’s future will be long settled by then.  In the mean time, the parking lots in Yonkers and Bethlehem are full of cars with NJ plates that may never go back to Atlantic City, but they would come to the Meadowlands.”

“The Christie Administration, through the Hanson Commission and comments made by the Governor, signals its belief that that state’s best opportunity to derive benefits from these facilities is to let private enterprise use private capital to develop and operate the facilities. We totally agree with that assessment as this Vision plan provides a simple mechanism to establish its value: let the marketplace bid on the right to build it and then the state gets to step aside and reap the benefits.”

Please visit to download a rendering of the Vision.

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