EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ-With a deal moving ever closer for new arena in downtown Newark to house the NBA NJ Nets and NHL NJ Devils, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority is continuing to study three competing proposals to redevelop the site of the Continental Airlines Arena here, which would be vacated. One of those three proposals is the $1.5 billion Meadowlands Xanadu, a massive entertainment- and retail-driven mixed-use complex put forth by the Arlington, VA-based Mills Corp. and the Cranford, NJ-based Mack-Cali Realty Corp.

Now, that development team has added some heft, literally, to its project, bringing on the newly playoff-bound New York Giants of the NFL as a partner. The Giants, of course, occupy the adjoining Giants Stadium, a 77,000-seat venue that the team and the complex’s owner, the NJSEA, are actively promoting as a site for the 2008 Super Bowl. The effort to bring the Super Bowl to town entails an overhaul of Giants Stadium, possibly including a partial roof, aimed at deflecting concerns about the weather in the region during the winter months.

“The Meadowlands Sports Complex is our home, and we have a considerable stake in its redevelopment,” said John K. Mara, EVP of the Giants in a written statement. “The ultimate decision on the best development team is critical to the Giants. The Xanadu proposal being offered by the Mills Corp. and Mack-Cali Realty Corp. fits well with the Giants’ vision for the future, and we felt it was a natural extension of our core business to become involved in this project.”

Meadowlands Xanadu, as currently proposed, includes a mix of retail with family entertainment like indoor skiing and minor league baseball, as well as a children’s educational venue. The development proposal also calls for construction of a hotel and office complex. The Nets and Devils would like to be out of the existing arena by 2005, and redevelopment of the 106-acre site would begin shortly thereafter.

“Obviously, the Giants’ organization lends additional prestige and credibility to our proposal,” according to Mills’ chairman and CEO Laurence C. Siegel. “We couldn’t be more pleased to have their active support for and involvement in this project.”

The project’s timing, of course, remains contingent upon a deal for an arena in Newark. In any case, the NJSEA hopes to have a decision on which of the three proposals will make the cut.

The two other proposals competing with Mills and Mack-Cali are of similar scope but with a different focus. They include one by a joint venture between Hartz Mountain Industries and Forest City Ratner, and another by the Westfield Group. NJSEA officials have stated publicly that the final choice could incorporate elements of all three proposals.

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