A group headed by David Blitzer and Joshua Harris has finalized the purchase of the New Jersey Devils, the NHL announced on Thursday. The purchase includes Prudential Center (the team's home arena) and all the debt incurred by the franchise, which is reported at approximately $200 million.
The group's final proposal is reportedly in excess of $320 million. The group was unwilling to disclose the specifics of the deal. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated previous accounts have been wrong.
Harris is the co-founder of Apollo Global Management, which is a firm that specializes in alternative investment management. Apollo Management is self-described as being value-oriented investors in private equity, credit and real estate with significant distress. Blitzer is the senior managing director at the Blackstone Group, which is an alternative asset management group that specializes in private equity and credit investment strategies. Meaning, they are qualified to handle the issues that have fallen on the New Jersey franchise.
In addition, Harris is the principal owner of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, while Blitzer is a minority owner. Upon purchasing the franchise, Harris and his group aggressively tried to lure fans back by rebranding the Sixers and offering a variety of promotional specials.
Such a course of action could be in store for the Devils.
In terms of the 76ers' future, the team is reportedly not going anywhere. It is believed to have a 20-year lease agreement with Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, according to John Gonzalez of Comcast SportsNet. Sources informed Gonzalez that the agreement has significant protections and provisions that would make a relocation of the franchise difficult.
Of course, what the future may hold remains in question. If Gonzalez's sources are accurate in their understanding, that won't be an issue for some time. Harris flatly denied that the Sixers would be relocating and stated that the franchises are two separate situations.
Whatever the case might be, the Devils seemingly have stable ownership moving forward.
Former owner Jeff Vanderbeek will remain with the franchise as a senior advisor. Scott O'Neal will be named the team's CEO, and his duties will include his oversight in the team's business operations and the running of Devils Arena Entertainment. Lou Lamoriello will continue to head the hockey operations.