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Grapevine: Raring for a deal

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Grapevine has learned that Raritan Bay Medical Center's new ownership deal is imminent, and should be announced soon. At an event in late January, CEO Michael D'Agnes was overheard saying the new owner would be in place by the “end of the month.” Grapevine reported earlier this year that the Robert Wood Johnson system, Prime Healthcare and another unknown bidder were the final three candidates. Hudson Holdco LLC was mistakenly listed as the third bidder at the time.

Raritan Bay spokesman Eric Muench declined to comment, due to confidentiality agreements.

Sunset for Somerset-RWJ?

The Somerset Medical Center saga continues. A source tipped Grapevine to the fact that, despite saying in September that a deal with the Robert Wood Johnson system was in the works, Somerset has reopened discussions with other systems about possibly taking over the hospital.

Somerset spokeswoman Kathleen Roberts confirmed to Grapevine in a statement that the hospital's board is "conducting a thorough and deliberate review of possible partnerships with a full range of health care partners and anticipate making a decision regarding our partner selection by the summer."

Not hedging its bets

As New Jersey prepares to host the NFL's first cold-weather Super Bowl, at least one storm cloud already is looming on the horizon — the legal battle over sports betting here.

The six-month-old lawsuit has set the state against the NFL, among other leagues, creating a high-profile standoff between two of the parties that have also teamed up for next year's big game. It may be far too early to say how the situation affects New Jersey's chances of getting another Super Bowl, but insiders say the two sides have seemed to separate the matters to this point.

"That issue is that issue, and getting the Super Bowl here … is another issue," one person said, referring to preparations for the upcoming game.

The Garden State's quest to legalize sports wagering already has had some collateral damage. In October, the NCAA said it would pull six events from New Jersey, citing the new betting regulations, including regionals for wrestling, swimming and Division I women's basketball, and championships for men's volleyball and women's lacrosse.

New Jersey's law seeks to allow sports betting at casinos and racetracks, which advocates say is key to helping the struggling industries. But in August, the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA filed suit to kill the law, alleging it violates the 20-year-old federal ban on sports betting in 46 states; the federal government has since joined the suit on the leagues' side.

Ready to rumble down the road

With two months to go, the road to WrestleMania at MetLife Stadium will likely start to take shape in the coming weeks — figuratively and literally.

Planners for the April 7 event are expected to discuss how they might deck out the highways leading to the Meadowlands stadium, Grapevine has learned. Where and when exactly the signs will be posted — and what type of signage could be used — are still unknown, but those questions will be hashed out in advance of the WWE's signature show.

For the uninitiated, "The Road to WrestleMania" is a popular and seemingly official phrase used by the WWE and its fans to describe the weeks leading to the event, typically starting with the Royal Rumble, which was held in late January.

The buildup to the event in New Jersey has been filled with hype, starting with last year's press conference that featured Chris Christie entering the stage to heavy metal music. When tickets went on sale to the public in November, the event reportedly broke the record for first-day sales, and more than 70,000 tickets for MetLife Stadium were gone within a week.

Area tourism leaders have also announced that the Izod Center would host two of the three companion events for WrestleMania 29 — the four-day "Axxess" fan fest and Monday Night Raw. That's in addition to the main event during a five-day bonanza expected to draw around 10,000 fans to the region.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at sharonw@njbiz.com.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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