Officials: Big Changes in Store for Jersey Authority

New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey tabbed financier George Zoffinger to head of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and criticized previous NJSEA leadership for the way it handled the operation.

The Newark Star-Ledger newspaper said McGreevey cited the authority for political cronyism and for awarding "excessive raises and bonuses" even though it received almost $50 million in taxpayer subsidies.

"We will fundamentally change the way the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority does business," McGreevey said during a press conference at the Meadowlands sports complex. "We have to run the state government like a business."

The NJSEA in effect controls horse racing in the state by virtue of its ownership of Monmouth Park and Meadowlands.

The Star-Ledger reported that Zoffinger, a millionaire banker who is chairman and chief executive of Constellation Capital Corp. in New Brunswick, N.J., would clean house. Twenty-two of the NJSEA's 270 full-time employees make more than $100,000 a year, the newspaper reported.

"I don't have a list yet, but there has to be a list," Zoffinger said in reference to a number of executives he plans to lay off as part of his cost-cutting plans. "I've never run any business that lost $50 million in my life, and I don't plan on doing that now."

James DiEleuterio, outgoing chief executive of the NJSEA, defended the agency in a separate interview, the newspaper reported. "Our facilities are simply the best run in the nation, and the operating statistics and awards bear that out," DiEleuterio told the Star-Ledger.

Zoffinger said the state would have to seriously consider video lottery terminals for New Jersey's racetracks in light of plans to install the machines at tracks in nearby New York. That state also has plans to build casinos in the Catskill Mountains.