Reuters: NHL’s Devils Sold to Owners of Philadelphia 76ers

(Reuters) – A pair of private equity executives who own a majority of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team on Thursday reached a deal to acquire the New Jersey Devils hockey team and its arena.

Joshua Harris and David Blitzer bought the team from former owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek, the pair said in a statement. They did not immediately disclose the purchase price, though The Record newspaper of New Jersey valued the deal at $320 million.

Harris, a billionaire managing director at Apollo Global management and Blitzer, a senior managing director at Blackstone, led a group that acquired the NBA’s 76ers in 2011 for about $280 million.

The Devils have played in the Newark-based Prudential Center since 2007, when they relocated from East Rutherford, New Jersey. The arena, championed by former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, has struggled to turn a profit due in part to a large number of competing sports and entertainment venues in the New York metropolitan area.

Forbes magazine reported that the Devils have accumulated $230 million in debt and that Vanderbeek missed the first payment on a recently restructured bank loan.

Billboard magazine rated the arena as the eighth-highest grossing worldwide for the first half of 2013. However, the venue, known as “The Rock,” has struggled to generate enough revenue, particularly since the departure of the NBA’s Nets to nearby Brooklyn.

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Mike Segar