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MetroStars reach final agreement on soccer specific stadium

SECAUCUS, N.J. - AEG and the MetroStars announced today that an agreement has been reached to bring a new 20,000 seat stadium and entertainment complex to Harrison, N.J., to serve as the home of Major League Soccer's MetroStars. The new soccer stadium is the highest profile project within the redevelopment of the historic Harrison waterfront, one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in recent state history.

Already a new 166-room Hampton Inn and Suites hotel has opened, and construction has begun on the first phase of what will eventually total approximately 6,000 housing units. Additionally, 3.5 million square feet of office space and 1.2 million square feet of retail space are planned as part of this mixed-use redevelopment initiative.

Town officials have long championed the stadium complex, now expected to open in time for the 2007 MLS season, as the centerpiece of the redevelopment effort.

"All of us in Harrison are pleased that the MetroStars will soon become an important part of our community," said Mayor of Harrison Raymond J. McDonough. "We feel strongly that this new stadium will serve as a focal point for the redevelopment of our waterfront and that it will truly make Harrison a destination for people throughout the region."

The redevelopment area consists of some 250-waterfront acres located just south of Interstate Route 280, across from downtown Newark. It enjoys easy access to the Port of New York and New Jersey, Newark International Airport, New York City, the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, US Routes 1 & 9 and Interstate 78.

Over the last several weeks, the Town of Harrison, the County of Hudson and representatives from the Governor's office completed final negotiations on the stadium deal with the MetroStars and their parent company, AEG. These negotiations produced an agreement that significantly increases AEG's financial contribution to the $160 million project in exchange for an exclusive role in the management and operation of the facility.

The County of Hudson, through the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) will provide key financial support to ensure the project goes forward under the new agreement.

The plan will require the approval of Hudson County Freeholder Board, the Board of Commissioners of the Hudson County Improvement Authority, the Board of the Harrison Redevelopment Agency and the Town Council of Harrison.

The Harrison Stadium Complex includes not only a new 20,000 seat outdoor professional sports and entertainment venue, but also a new 1,500-space parking garage that will provide public parking as well as Stadium event parking.

As part of its $1 billion redevelopment program, the Town of Harrison will acquire the land needed for stadium construction. The Town will raise the funds required- approximately $40 million- through the sale of general obligation bonds in an amount necessary to fund land acquisition, environmental remediation, capitalized interest, related redevelopment expenses and transactional costs.

AEG, the parent company of the MetroStars, will provide full funding for the construction of the Stadium, approximately $80 million, through a combination of equity capital and Company Guaranteed taxable bonds. AEG will assume full liability for all costs associated with the stadium, including environmental remediation overruns, stadium construction cost overruns and ongoing operating costs of the stadium, including debt service on the bonds. AEG will have the exclusive right to manage and operate the Stadium. AEG will enter into a lease agreement with the MetroStars to play their home games at the venue. AEG will also schedule concerts, international soccer games and other events at the Stadium to produce revenues.

The Hudson County Improvement Authority will acquire the necessary land to construct the proposed 1,500 space public parking garage at a cost of approximately $40 million. It is expected that this garage will be supported from PATH commuters. The Improvement Authority will issue tax-exempt bonds to finance this project.

The Hudson County Improvement Authority will fund all three elements of the Stadium Complex through the simultaneous issuance of three separate series of revenue bonds. This is in line with Hudson County Executive Thomas A. DeGise's public commitment to employ the HCIA more aggressively as a tool to spur development.

"Leverage is crucial in public partnerships like this one," said DeGise. "By bringing the bonding power of the HCIA to the table, we have created an environment that makes greater private investment possible and finally move forward on a project that will bring hundreds of new permanent jobs to west Hudson and millions in new tax revenues. The new entertainment, office and retail development in Harrsion will not only revitalize the Passaic River waterfront, it will mean more stable taxes and a better quality of life for all Hudson County residents."

Officials from AEG and the MetroStars are excited to finally have an appropriate home and a chance to build a future for their operations in Harrison.

"AEG has made it very clear that we have to succeed in this marketplace to be successful and, this public/private partnership to develop a soccer-specific stadium is the one model that will guarantee this success," said Timothy J. Leiweke, President & CEO of AEG. "This is truly a landmark day for this community and the MetroStars as it will create a brand new 'cathedral' for soccer. Our thanks and appreciation goes to Governor Codey, County Executive DeGise and Mayor McDonough as well as the leadership of Harrison for 'hanging in there' and working with us to develop this landmark public/private partnership that is without a doubt a win-win scenario for the community and soccer fans throughout the region."

"After a long journey filled with many ups and downs this is one of the proudest days of my life," said Nick Sakiewicz, President of AEG, NY/NJ. "The commitment to deliver on a promise made to MetroStars fans and the people of this area is something that I have never wavered on and, I always knew this day would come. This stadium will be a very special place that will reflect the passion that the people of this area have for the sport of soccer, and the history that has made this area a hotbed of soccer in this country."

"This is a seminal day in MetroStars history that would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of people like Nick Sakiewicz," said MetroStars President and General Manager Alexi Lalas. "The MetroStars Stadium at Harrison will provide our fans with the ideal soccer venue, and we will give them a successful and entertaining team to go along with it. It's a beautiful day to be a MetroStars fan and tomorrow is looking even better!"

The project could not have finally reached completion without the tireless work of state and federal officials who have long supported it.

"Harrison stadium will be much more than an entertainment venue, it will be the centerpiece of one of largest redevelopment projects in state history," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "Projects like this are exactly what New Jersey needs, they reinvigorate growth in our urban areas and combat suburban sprawl."

"This redevelopment in Harrison is an example of the potential that can be unlocked in New Jersey when there is cooperation and vision," said U.S. Rep. Bob Menendez (D-13). "Working together, federal, state, and local government with private partners will recapture brownfields and turn them into true greenfields--generating jobs, revenue, and improving the quality of life for all residents. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues at every level to secure funding to improve the infrastructure in the area and make this project a reality."

"As the sponsor of the original legislation to help bring professional soccer to Harrison and Hudson County, I am proud that the State of New Jersey has recognized the importance of this project, which will bring hundreds of jobs and economic opportunities to our region," said Assembly Speaker Albio Sires. "This is a great day for Harrison, Hudson County and the State of New Jersey."

The town of Harrison was incorporated in 1852. Today it is home to nearly 15,000 people. The Harrison Redevelopment Area consists of some 250-waterfront acres, about 32% of the town's 1.2 square mile area. From the late 1800s on, Harrison played an integral role in America's industrial economy. Some of the leading industrial concerns in the region and the entire nation called Harrison home, including: Otis Elevator, Crucible Steel Co., RCA and Hartz Mountain Industries.

Hudson County is New Jersey's smallest and most densely populated county, with over 600,000 residents packed into just 46 square miles. Connected to New York by the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, PATH trains and commuter water ferry services, it boasts a gleaming waterfront . The County is home to a host of information-age firms formerly based in New York who have taken advantage of the lower cost of doing business and the outstanding modern infrastructure found here to help make them more competitive.

AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, The Manchester Evening News Arena and NOKIA Live at Grand Prairie; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), four Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe and management of privately owned shares of the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA); AEG Marketing, a sponsorship, sales, naming rights and consulting company; AEG Merchandising, a multi-faceted merchandising company; AEG Creative, a full-service marketing and advertising agency and AEG LIVE, a worldwide leading concert and promotion agency devoted to all aspects of live entertainment.

The company is currently developing new facilities in London, Berlin, Kansas City, Chicago, New Jersey, New York and downtown Los Angeles.


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