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LAKEWOOD, NJ-The active sports venue construction scene in New Jersey could get even busier if talks between officials of this city and the New Jersey Devils hockey team come to fruition. Discussions center on a 7,000-seat arena that could cost upwards of $50 million, according to a published report.

City officials say the aim is to get the Devils to move their top minor league affiliate, now playing in Upstate New York as the Albany River Rats, to the proposed new venue, which would be owned by the city and operated by the Devils. One city official who did not want to be identified indicates that a deal could be done within the next months. Devils officials, meanwhile, characterize the talks as “preliminary.” Both sides declined further comment.

Besides hosting the minor league hockey team, the venue could be used for a variety of events, including concerts, trade shows and other exhibits. The proposed venue would share a parking lot with FirstEnergy Park, home field of the Lakewood BlueClaws, an affiliate of baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies.

One obstacle, according to State Sen. Robert Singer (R-Ocean County), who’s the city’s lead negotiator, is re-acquiring a seven-acre site needed to fill out the arena’s building site. That seven acres was turned over to the locally based Cedarbridge Development a couple of years ago as part of that firm’s site assembly for a 200-acre office park. The latter project has been stalled, with only some site work completed to date.

If the arena moves forward, it would join such other sports venues currently in the works or under construction in the Garden State. Among them are a $310-million arena for the Devils in Downtown Newark, a $1-billion stadium for football’s Giants and Jets in the Meadowlands, a $100-million stadium in Harrison for pro soccer’s MetroStars and a minor league ballpark as part of the Meadowlands Xanadu project, among others.

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