Just a month after AEG president Tim Leiweke said the company that owns the MLS club would start giving it the financial backing it needed, AEG announced an agreement to build a $92.2 million, 20,000-seat stadium in Harrison, N.J.
“AEG has made it very clear that we have to succeed in this market to be successful, and this . . . will guarantee success. This is a landmark day, as it will create a brand-new cathedral for soccer,” said Leiweke, who has watched dwindling attendance and a bad lease deal at Giants Stadium hamstring the club.
The deal seemed done several times, only to have state and Hudson County officials balk at plans that saw AEG paying $15 million, then $30 million, and finally an even split of the $90-million stadium with the NJSEA. AEG ” which just sold D.C. United for $28 million ” eventually decided to fund the entire stadium.
The city will pay $25 million for the land and clean-up, and the county $38 million for a parking garage. The deal will be final once the county Board of Freeholders votes next Friday to approve $80 million in bonds, considered a fait accompli because AEG is guaranteeing the debt service.
In a slightly related story, this correspondent recently ran into Tony Meola at Newark’s Liberty International Airport, and was pleased to note that as the former US international goalkeeper approaches middle-age, he’s looking less and less like Turtle from “Entourage”.