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Fourth and long as Christie backs off American Dream

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The legal battle between the latest developer and the football teams that have called the swamplands home for decades has been a bigger knock-down, drag-out fight than any gridiron classic held at either MetLife or Giants stadiums. The game only went on because Chris Christie was such a visible lineman for the project, both in publicly advocating for it and having his top lieutenants working behind the scenes on getting it done.

Now, that seems to be at an end, as the governor last week said his days of intervening on behalf of moving the project along are over. That means it'll be up the courts to decide if approval of the water park Triple Five claims is a vital portion of the project — it wasn't included in the original plan, called Xanadu — represents a breach of contract with the Giants and Jets. If so, it could cost the state a developer for this white — actually, multicolored — elephant, and it's really hard to imagine yet another builder deciding to take a chance on this project.

Frankly, we never saw the economic brilliance of this project. New Jersey already is home to plenty of gigantic malls. The only "entertainment" component you can't get elsewhere in the area is summertime skiing on the indoor slopes. And beyond coming to gawk when it first opens, New Yorkers are not going to cross the river in droves to do their shopping there, especially when their best options are driving, with expensive tolls and parking fees, and anemic NJ Transit rail service.

Further, we understand the plight of the sports teams. Why pay for season tickets, a seat license, parking, beer and so on when you can get a gigantic plasma TV and a comfortable couch, not be at the mercy of the elements and actually be able to see the game? Add water park traffic to the mix, and you have another good reason to stay home on any given Sunday.

But for all those drawbacks, the fact remains that hundreds of millions of dollars have been sunk into this project, and walking away just because the mall won't be ready for the Super Bowl is a bad idea. We hope the players all wind up back at the table to come up with a resolution — and quickly.

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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