Xanadu or “Xanadon’t?”

The Star Ledger asks if it’s time to rename the Meadowlands. Suggestions: Fairyland, Fantasyland, or Delusion, NJ. Xanadu, a 2 million square foot unfinished entertainment complex is a structural eyesore and financial catastrophe.The Meadowlands Racetrack is losing $10 million a year. And the Izod Center is still standing because of subsidies.

This should be low-hanging fruit for incoming Governor Christie: take a close look at the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Set up by the state in 1971 to manage the Meadowlands, Mounmouth County Racetrack, and other gaming centers, the NJSEA has overseen the development of Xanadu, including a deal with The Port Authority to build a $150 million rail spur into the entertainment complex. The $182 million, 2.3 mile, spur is  now open, Xanadu is a skeletal enigma, and the NJSEA has long since run out of money.

Once NJSEA’s financing ventures were kept afloat with gambling revenues, but “those days are long gone.” Senate President Richard Codey can think of two reasons to keep it open, to “manage the racetracks” and to save jobs. Yet, both of these would result if the NJSEA was abolished and the racetrack privatized, with the added bonus of saving the state and taxpayers money.

Today, the state is servicing $691 million in NJSEA debt issued for Meadowlands maintenance. On top of this the Meadowlands projects a $3.1 million loss.

As the Star Ledger puts it, “If horse racing can’t support itself, let it die. Close Izod. Dump most of those six-figure salaries on the NJSEA payroll. Figure out what to do with the land, which is valuable real estate, and stop asking taxpayers to foot the bill for an agency whose time has passed.”