N.J. holds off on approving 76ers move

December 23, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

TRENTON, N.J. -- After meeting with Philadelphia 76ers owner Harold Katz yesterday, New Jersey Gov.- elect Christie Whitman said she still had questions about the finances surrounding a deal to bring the team to Camden, N.J., and would not make a decision on the move until after Christmas.

While insisting that she "would love" the basketball team to cross the river, Whitman said she wanted a complete review of the financial package to ensure that tax dollars would not be needed. Gov. James Florio has said he would not sign off on the deal without Whitman's approval.

"This is a very complicated deal," Whitman said. At her request, an independent accounting firm has been reviewing the deal negotiated with Katz by New Jersey officials.

Noting that Katz had been dealing off and on with state officials since former Gov. Thomas H. Kean's administration, Whitman said her staff needed time to get up to speed on the details of the proposed deal.

"It's new to us," she said. "We need some answers before I can say it will serve Camden as well as the entire state."

The only new detail she offered about the proposed stadium is that it is modeled after a new arena in Anaheim, Calif.

Florio and Katz had hoped to announce last week that the team would move to a new $80 million stadium on the Camden waterfront. They have said that the deal would not require tax dollars.

Yesterday, Katz -- who was exuberant last week -- appeared more subdued. "If you're looking for a comment today, you're not going to get one," he said after the meeting with Whitman.

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