Ross taking over Xanadu, dumping name
Friday, May 14, 2010
Last updated: Saturday May 15, 2010, 2:31 PM
The Record
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“Xanadu” is out, “Meadowlands” in — and, more important, billionaire Steve Ross is in, too.

Ross was seen as a possible savior for the 2.3 million-square-foot entertainment and retail project when he started negotiating to become a partner earlier this year. Now he has invited hundreds of retailers nationwide to visit his Related Cos. booth at the International Council of Shopping Centers event in Las Vegas in 10 days to discuss the rebranded project.

“Related will soon introduce the grand opening of the Meadowlands project, which can only be defined as epic,” reads a promotional brochure sent to the retailers this month. A copy of the brochure was obtained by The Record on Friday.

Real estate executive Jon F. Hanson, a former New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority chairman and Governor Christie’s adviser on revamping the Meadowlands Sports Complex, called it a “positive step.”

“The Meadowlands will usher in a new era and a bold redefinition of what a retail destination can be,” another section of the Related brochure reads. “To be part of the Meadowlands is to find your place in American retailing history.”

The $2 billion project also has changed its Web address. The longstanding visitxanadu.com website has 
been replaced by visitmeadowlands.com.

“Meadowlands, America’s newest premier destination, offers entertainment, shopping, special events, sporting activities and dining all under one roof, within minutes of New York City,” the website says under “About Meadowlands.”

The most prominent picture on the main page of the site still shows the 286-foot Pepsi Globe and the familiar light and dark blue mix on the exterior.

But the multihued orange exterior of the SnowPark, formerly the Snow Dome, now appears to be silver. Sports and Exposition Authority officials said several years ago that the developers were keeping open the possibility that an advertising “wrap” by a ski-related company could be placed over the exterior of that structure.

None of the printed information obtained by The Record made any mention of current project developer Colony Capital, or investors Kan Am and Dune Capital. But those companies are still listed under “corporate information” on the website.

Ross is expected to announce soon that he has assembled the $500 million to $700 million in new investment needed to complete the project — though the grand opening probably would not happen before mid-2011.
State Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, whose district encompasses the Meadowlands Sports Complex, said the name change did not surprise him.

“I think the success of the Ross companies, from what I’ve read, is to re-brand the product if it has struggled,” Sarlo said. “The timing here is great for the potential of jobs here, given the difficult economic times.”

The ICSC event in Las Vegas draws thousands of the country’s leading retail executives, making it the virtual Super Bowl of retail.

The featured speaker at this year’s event will be Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is among the dozens of scheduled speakers.

“Let’s talk at ICSC about state-of-the-art immersive shopping,” reads Related’s brochure, which contains a map leading retailers to its 6,250-square-foot Emperors Ballroom display at the Caesars Palace Conference Center.

The new website continues to list most of the same entertainment options.

Even Cabela’s is still listed, though the company’s chief executive, Tommy Millner, said this week that the company would open additional stores in 2011 only if “an unbelievable opportunity presented itself.” Cabela’s, a camping and outdoors store, will be able to opt out of its six-year partnership with Xanadu in October.

Muvico, which also had been part of the Xanadu plan for six years, is gone, renamed only as a “movie experience.” The 17-screen complex is no longer referred to as “Egyptian-themed.” Also missing from the list is Wannado City, a children’s role-playing attraction that has been associated with the project since 2004.

The long-stalled project has been called Xanadu since the fall of 2002, when now-defunct Mills Corp. launched a bid that beat out five rivals as the Sports and Exposition Authority board’s selection for a Meadowlands arena-site redevelopment project.

Colony Capital took over the project from Mills in 2006, but the project ran into serious financial problems in March 2009, and little work has been done since then. The exterior, however, is nearly finished, aside from revisions to the much-criticized color scheme.

Representatives of Related Cos. and Colony did not return requests for comment, and Sports and Exposition Authority officials have been referring callers to Hanson.

E-mail: brennan@northjersey.com


Fit story on 1 page Page 1 2 >>

“Xanadu” is out, “Meadowlands” in — and, more important, billionaire Steve Ross is in, too.

The new Meadowlands logo.
The new Meadowlands logo.

Ross was seen as a possible savior for the 2.3 million-square-foot entertainment and retail project when he started negotiating to become a partner earlier this year. Now he has invited hundreds of retailers nationwide to visit his Related Cos. booth at the International Council of Shopping Centers event in Las Vegas in 10 days to discuss the rebranded project.

“Related will soon introduce the grand opening of the Meadowlands project, which can only be defined as epic,” reads a promotional brochure sent to the retailers this month. A copy of the brochure was obtained by The Record on Friday.

Real estate executive Jon F. Hanson, a former New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority chairman and Governor Christie’s adviser on revamping the Meadowlands Sports Complex, called it a “positive step.”

“The Meadowlands will usher in a new era and a bold redefinition of what a retail destination can be,” another section of the Related brochure reads. “To be part of the Meadowlands is to find your place in American retailing history.”

Xanadu will now be known as Meadowlands.
FILE PHOTO
Buy this photo
Xanadu will now be known as Meadowlands.

The $2 billion project also has changed its Web address. The longstanding visitxanadu.com website has 
been replaced by visitmeadowlands.com.

“Meadowlands, America’s newest premier destination, offers entertainment, shopping, special events, sporting activities and dining all under one roof, within minutes of New York City,” the website says under “About Meadowlands.”

The most prominent picture on the main page of the site still shows the 286-foot Pepsi Globe and the familiar light and dark blue mix on the exterior.

But the multihued orange exterior of the SnowPark, formerly the Snow Dome, now appears to be silver. Sports and Exposition Authority officials said several years ago that the developers were keeping open the possibility that an advertising “wrap” by a ski-related company could be placed over the exterior of that structure.

None of the printed information obtained by The Record made any mention of current project developer Colony Capital, or investors Kan Am and Dune Capital. But those companies are still listed under “corporate information” on the website.

Ross is expected to announce soon that he has assembled the $500 million to $700 million in new investment needed to complete the project — though the grand opening probably would not happen before mid-2011.
State Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, whose district encompasses the Meadowlands Sports Complex, said the name change did not surprise him.

“I think the success of the Ross companies, from what I’ve read, is to re-brand the product if it has struggled,” Sarlo said. “The timing here is great for the potential of jobs here, given the difficult economic times.”

The ICSC event in Las Vegas draws thousands of the country’s leading retail executives, making it the virtual Super Bowl of retail.

The featured speaker at this year’s event will be Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is among the dozens of scheduled speakers.

“Let’s talk at ICSC about state-of-the-art immersive shopping,” reads Related’s brochure, which contains a map leading retailers to its 6,250-square-foot Emperors Ballroom display at the Caesars Palace Conference Center.

The new website continues to list most of the same entertainment options.

Even Cabela’s is still listed, though the company’s chief executive, Tommy Millner, said this week that the company would open additional stores in 2011 only if “an unbelievable opportunity presented itself.” Cabela’s, a camping and outdoors store, will be able to opt out of its six-year partnership with Xanadu in October.

Muvico, which also had been part of the Xanadu plan for six years, is gone, renamed only as a “movie experience.” The 17-screen complex is no longer referred to as “Egyptian-themed.” Also missing from the list is Wannado City, a children’s role-playing attraction that has been associated with the project since 2004.

The long-stalled project has been called Xanadu since the fall of 2002, when now-defunct Mills Corp. launched a bid that beat out five rivals as the Sports and Exposition Authority board’s selection for a Meadowlands arena-site redevelopment project.

Colony Capital took over the project from Mills in 2006, but the project ran into serious financial problems in March 2009, and little work has been done since then. The exterior, however, is nearly finished, aside from revisions to the much-criticized color scheme.

Fit story on 1 page Page 1 2 >>

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Reader Comments (26)

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  1. Sunday May 16, 2010, 12:19 AM - geodesicdome2 says:
    This project was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time: in the midst of being constructed, the recession hit. Let them admit defeat and move on --- stop throwing bad money after good.

  2. Saturday May 15, 2010, 10:30 PM - procon says:
    GOTKIDSII.....please excuse my most horrible error in not knowing the GSP was 11 miles away not 10, and riverside 13.....what an enormous difference.....I propose that the project be cancelled and the edifice taken down...the original investors/banks bailed out....it happens....now the Meadowlands and E. Rutherford have the opportunity to right a terrible wrong. Rezone, and make it a park, additional parking, or natural wetlands. Nothing good will come from this. Not only has everyone on this board opposed it, but E. Rutherford police have decried this. This will soak up millions of taxpayer dollars in local, county and state dollars for police protection, maintenance, and road depreciation. Close it/knock it down. That's my idea. What do you want to do??? Maybe we should build another airport on RT3. You are so confident in our roads, and don't seem to mind the endless traffic???????

  3. Saturday May 15, 2010, 8:25 PM - surfside says:
    Dear Mr Ross, The only way way you have a chance is if you keep Paul Sarlo and the rest of Bergen Dems far away - just a heads up if you didnt know, they turn things to poop.

  4. Saturday May 15, 2010, 5:52 PM - GotKidsII says:
    ProCon; Do you have any ideas or do you only know what you don't want? Garden State Plaza and Riverside Square are 11 and 13 miles away respectively. The issue is what do we do now, not what you will hold your breadth in protest of.

  5. Saturday May 15, 2010, 5:28 PM - geodesicdome2 says:
    Even more obscene is the fact that this monstrosity -- that has oodles of lead based paint on the exterior and will be turning oodles of electricity on the interior -- was built right next to protected wetlands. "Immersive shopping"? In other words, kind of a "lose yourself while you shop in our consumer's paradise" kind of thing.

  6. Saturday May 15, 2010, 5:17 PM - procon says:
    GOTKIDSII....you are unreal...I said I wasn't going to comment again but I can't allow your comments to go unchecked....we live in the most densly populated area of he most densly populated state in the US.....we live on top of each other like animals in this area....it takes 1 hour to drive 5 miles in rush hour and during holiday shopping season...and now you want to pump more people into this area, and you want to push this traffic on us on Sunday's as well. Xanadu is NOT built. It still needs $500,000,000 more in financing and at least another year or more of construction. And how about opening Casino's at the track....I'm guessing your OK with the tens of thousands that will flock there on weekends. So according to you the roads will hold nearly half a million cars on any given weekend with football, xanadu and a casino, no problem??? They can't even hold the traffic now, without xanadu and casino.

  7. Saturday May 15, 2010, 3:59 PM - ELTORO__6555 says:
    Will the ugly walls be painted over so it will no longer look like an automobile scrap yard?

  8. Saturday May 15, 2010, 3:54 PM - GotKidsII says:
    Xanadu is built, it was built with private money and it's not coming down. I was not particularly excited about another mall. I HATE shopping and I hate the idea of a downhill ski slope and the energy usage even more. I learned how to shoot skeet in the meadows. Anybody here remember that? The question we are faced with now though, is how to make it successful. We are faced with the real possibility that this could be a white elephant and the resultant economic depression it would cause for this generation and the next; the solution I advocate is for a NASCAR track to drive my south jersey friends north to spend money and yes, shop. And nix the Sunday blue law for the Meadowlands project. It makes no sense given the shopping going on a stones throw away in Secaucus. If the Bergen Dem's could get out of their own way they would commission a deliberative democracy discussion which may lead to a shift away from the populist viewpoints that leave Us little real answers.

  9. Saturday May 15, 2010, 2:49 PM - procon says:
    Tubaplayer...No sense in arguing with GOTKIDSII. HE/She just doesn't get it. As stated, we have more shopping in a 10 mile radius with 5 Major Malls, and dozens of mini strip malls than most STATES have in their entire state total. Our roads are unbelievably overcrowded with traffic, we have the 3rd worst roads in the nation, yet pay the highest taxes and tolls. Again, she is comparing a few stores in Secaucus, to Paramus and this HUGE monstrosity Xanadu. Not even close. This will be a MAJOR burdon on our roads, local towns, police, commuters and people who just need to drive by there. I guess she just wants to shop at any cost. That is why when the "Blue Laws" used to come up for a vote to be overturned so people could shop on Sunday, it would be destroyed by the voters EVERY TIME. Again..talk to Paramus/Maywood/Riveredge residents. Ask those who know first hand what they think about Xanadu.

  10. Saturday May 15, 2010, 2:37 PM - Radioman says:
    I too think the new stadium is ugly. Maybe not ugly, but unimpressive.

  11. Saturday May 15, 2010, 2:32 PM - Radioman says:
    Uncleal....Dp you salute the Swastika every morning?

  12. Saturday May 15, 2010, 2:08 PM - TubaPlayer says:
    In this article it mentions "Immersive Shopping" and I am not sure what that is. Is it like shoppers drowning or something? I think GotKids might be an "immersive shopper". I used to work at Bed Bath and Beyond and we would have customers that would shop from morning until late afternoon!! They would actually be there from start to finish of my shift! If you want Xanadu (or what ever it is called) then trade us one of the existing malls. The area is over developed. What say you GotKids????

  13. Saturday May 15, 2010, 1:14 PM - GotKidsII says:
    I know what Paramus looks like on Saturdays and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But it DOES NOT compare to Secaucus on Saturday or Sunday. Your NIMBY comments do not impress me. Again, the meadowlands is located at a MAJOR traffic junction designed for traffic overflow and shopping crowds do not compare to event crowds. Besides, drivers entering those areas know what to expect when they come. Sounds like you just wan to keep the traffic out of your area which may serve your narrow interests but DO NOT reflect the overall benefit to the state/region

  14. Saturday May 15, 2010, 1:05 PM - Lawman1 says:
    What an eyesore and embarresment for the people of New Jersey to have to endure. As Ronald Reagan said "Tear down that {Berlin} wall" we say "tear down that eyesore Steve Ross" . Turn it into a park with trees, grass , flowers, anything but another shopping mall....

  15. Saturday May 15, 2010, 12:10 PM - procon says:
    gotkidsII......are you actually comparing the few shops over in Secaucus to multimillion square foot shopping center with restaurants etc, built right at the intercection of rt 3, 120, and the turnpike, I think there may even be rides and or other attractions......How about the people that try to get off 16W on their way home from work now...

  16. Saturday May 15, 2010, 12:00 PM - procon says:
    gotkidsII...what world do you live in. The aforementioned roads have become undrivable between 3:30-7pm most weekdays, also on Sundays from Sept -Dec because of football. Now you want that same traffic ALL DAY LONG on Satruday. Go talk to the people in Paramus, Maywood and Riveredge. Ask them how they feel about mall traffic on Saturdays....not to mention that these towns will how have to hire more police to handle the people and traffic, which equals higher taxes....again, do we need higher taxes in NJ.....You can't drive out to Willowbrook or the Garden State Plaza....you need this hidious looking monstronsity clogging our roads and local streets to buy a pair of sneakers or a shirt????

  17. Saturday May 15, 2010, 9:31 AM - GotKidsII says:
    Procon: You are kidding right? There's shopping in Secaucus (Kohl's, WalMart, BestBuy, PetSmart...) a stones throw away and I don't see much complaining. By design, I don't even see any houses. Their miles away! Maybe you'd prefer to SEE Rt.3, Rt. 17, NJTP and Rt. 120 devoid of cars but that's not what taxpayers spent millions if not billions building them for.

  18. Saturday May 15, 2010, 7:20 AM - JohnC.Holmes says:
    CASINO.

  19. Friday May 14, 2010, 8:31 PM - arthuroarthur says:
    They better not be selling t-shirts on Sundays--that is against the blue laws.

  20. Friday May 14, 2010, 7:42 PM - procon says:
    This project is a disaster.. What is the attraction, we have the most malls/shopping in the nation within a 10 mile radius already (garden state plaza, paraums park, bergen mall, riverside square, secaucus shopping, willowbrook mall) We need another Macy's, or another sporting goods store, another restaurant???????.....all politics aside, dem, repub, independent.....image the traffic on RT 3, Rt 17, NJ Turnpike, Rt 120, as well as local roads in Lyndhurst, E. Ruth, and Ruth. ITS HORRIBLE NOW. The only time we get a break is on the weekends. Now it's going to be even worse on Saturday than the weekdays.

  21. Friday May 14, 2010, 6:45 PM - slayerbaby says:
    Is it me or is the new meadowlands stadium super ugly? I saw a picture of it and thought it was unfinished, but its finished. Compared to the new Cowboy's stadium it looks 20 years old already. NJ can't get anything right.

  22. Friday May 14, 2010, 6:39 PM - Kirk says:
    unceal you hit the nail on the head and couldn't agree with you more

  23. Friday May 14, 2010, 6:00 PM - geodesicdome2 says:
    He's calling it just "Meadowlands". That name sure has real marketability and selling power.

  24. Friday May 14, 2010, 5:29 PM - Tiger says:
    LOL! Xanadu, Meadowlands, it doesn't matter WHAT that monstrosity is named...it won't work! This state doesn't need another mall or entertainment center. That area was meant for wetlands, period.

  25. Friday May 14, 2010, 5:14 PM - uncleal says:
    We need this like a hole in the head. In six months after opening the third world people will inhabit it and we'll stay away !!! Or will the have machine gun swat teams patrolling !!

  26. Friday May 14, 2010, 4:59 PM - geodesicdome2 says:
    Yippee for us. Is he also going to fill the consumers' pockets with lots and lots of cash so we can buy something there?

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