Judge: Teams' lawsuit premature

Updated: August 9, 2012, 8:59 PM ET
Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. -- A judge on Thursday dismissed part of a lawsuit filed by the New York Giants and New York Jets to halt a megamall in New Jersey's Meadowlands, although the teams can still file legal challenges.

The teams filed suit in June against the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and Triple Five Group, developer of the proposed American Dream complex near MetLife Stadium, where the Giants and Jets play home games.

The teams claim the sports authority violated a 2006 agreement when it allowed Triple Five Group to expand the complex beyond its initial design without the teams' approval. They say the complex will cause massive parking and traffic problems on game days.

The original retail and entertainment complex, named Xanadu, was to encompass approximately 4.8 million square feet. Financial problems halted work in 2009, and last year Triple Five and the sports authority announced a plan to build the American Dream complex, which would eventually be the largest mall in the world at 7.5 million square feet.

The partially built structure looms across a highway from the stadium, its multicolored exterior once termed "god-awful ugly" by Gov. Chris Christie. It was originally slated to open in 2007.

In Thursday's ruling, state Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne said it is too early to consider the matter because the sports authority hasn't given the project final approval.

"Without knowing what the final, approved proposal will be, the court cannot decide whether it will cause adverse effects to plaintiffs," Doyne wrote, adding that once approval is given, the teams can renew their legal action.

In a joint statement issued Thursday, the teams expressed satisfaction with Doyne's ruling but said if the NJSEA does not address its concerns, "we will look to this Court to enforce our rights as directed by the Judge."

Doyne declined to dismiss the second count of the lawsuit, in which the teams charge Triple Five Group with tortious interference for going ahead with their plans while knowing the sports authority hadn't received the teams' approval. The company said in a statement that it looks forward to working with the teams "through the appropriate regulatory process before the NJSEA."

"We are grateful that the court recognizes that an administrative review process for the American Dream project is still unfolding. We will continue to go forward following long established Authority procedures," sports authority president and CEO Wayne Hasenbalg said in a statement.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press



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