Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris and his business partner David Blitzer have purchased a controlling stake in NHL franchise the New Jersey Devils.
Announced on Saturday, the new owners promised to turn the Devil’s into a Stanley Cup championship team based on a model of excellence.
The team’s new owners agreed to buy the team and lease the Prudential Center from Jeff Vanderbeek for $320 million.
According to Harris, a founding member of Apollo Global Management:
“What I am interested in is absolute success on and off the ice, and having the highest quality people and bringing the fans a great experience and winning.”
Rumors had circulated that Harris would move the team to Newark, a rumor he says is incorrect. Harris says the “Sixers are staying in Philly.”
The Devils have been in dire financial straits for some time and lost $25 million over the last calendar year.
Speaking about turning around the team, Harris says:
“We’ve had a lot of success at identifying literally the best, highest-quality management teams and then bringing them into situations and letting them do their thing and holding them accountable. Other people may like to meddle in it. What we like to do in essence is agree what the vision is, what the business plan is and then resource it and allow people to do their jobs.”
While new management will be brought in to help right the failing ship, one key member of the team will remain. Harris announced the decision to keep longtime executive Lou Lamoriello.
Jeff Vanderbeek, the teams owner since 2004, will also remain with the organization as a senior adviser. Vanderbeek had hoped to keep the team but ultimately couldn’t raise the funds needed to secure the franchises future. It’s unclear at this time if Vanderbeek managed to hold onto a minority share in the New Jersey Devils.
Harris already has plans to turn a profit by utilizing the Prudential Center for an increased number of concerts and other money making ventures. Harris believes the center has been underutilized for years.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman believes the future for the New Jersey Devils is bright. Following the deals big reveal, Bettma said:
“This is positive for this franchise, for this building and Newark. There is terrific ownership with resources and talent with can take the team and the building to the next level.”
Do you think the team’s new deep pocketed owners can turn the New Jersey Devils around?