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Prospective Devils owner may see turnaround opportunity in New Jersey

Aug 12, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

Joshua Harris Getty Images

On Friday, we wrote that it was probably good news for New Jersey Devils fans that billionaire Josh Harris was on the verge of buying the financially troubled team from current owner Jeff Vanderbeek.

Over the weekend, our hunch was supported by a sports economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

“If you look at how [Harris] has made his fortune, it’s basically through buying distressed properties, injecting cash and turning them around,” Scott Rosner told The Star-Ledger. “So the Devils would certainly fit the bill.”

Harris already owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, a franchise that’s seen its fortunes rise since he purchased them in 2011.

On that note, it’s interesting to recall what Harris had to say when he took over the struggling basketball club.

“Three times in my career before, I was involved in significant turnarounds of financially distressed companies,” Harris said, per “In each case, for a successful turnaround, the management focused 100 percent on two things: their customers, which in this case is our fans; and they focused on making their product excellent. And here we will put a lot of attention to putting a great product on the court and delivering a great fan experience.”

Harris still doesn’t officially own the Devils, but the newspaper calls that a “matter of weeks, perhaps days.”

According to Forbes, Harris — the co-founder of private equity firm Apollo Global Management — is worth $2.1 billion.

  1. kane987245 - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    As a Devils fan, i am very happy with this. Out of the hands of the owner who couldn’t get us out of debt and into the hands of someone who has nothing but get teams out of it. Should be exciting to see what happens next but finally some good news for NJ! =]

  2. thecheeman - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Get that draft pick back Josh. Let it hold up negotiations so Bettman has to eventually give it up to get rid of another ownership headache

    • nj666 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      That doesn’t make any sense.

      • quizguy66 - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        This won’t happen but the idea isn’t unprecedented actually. The owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers was so awful and traded so many draft picks away that when the Gund brothers bought the team from him one of the their conditions of the sale was that the NBA would allow them to buy an extra 1st round pick in the 1986 NBA draft. Seriously.

        As a Devils fan, I’m not holding my breath on this one.

  3. jcmeyer10 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    Way, I can’t move to Brooklyn too? Nevermind!

  4. jessejames182 - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    I hope it works out, the Devils aren’t suffering from a bad market, just an owner with bad financial knowledge. Hopefully a better owner can lure a nice Free agent in the upcoming off seasons.

  5. earpaniac - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    ? For Devils fans: How in the heck did they get in this position? They win, I just read they avg 17,000 fans a game, they’re in that market, and Lou seems to know what he’s doing. I was honestly shocked at how in debt they were.

    • quizguy66 - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      I think a big part of it was Vanderbeek’s own finances. Once the partnership went sour he ended up having to scramble to get all of the team – just too much of a financial outlay for him to handle for him by himself.


  6. 950003cups - Aug 12, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Ray Chambers and Jeff Vanderbeek were not getting along. Must’ve started when the bills of the new arena started mounting up. So Chambers (the very rich one) split with Vanderbeek (the not as rich one) and that’s when debt started becoming a big issue

  7. ruthlessandtoothless - Aug 12, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    Good luck with him. From what I’ve seen from him with the sixers he’s a man obsessed with cheesy promotions and gimmicks as well as getting rid of everyone hired by the previous owners(players and front office alike).

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