Such a deal under quiet discussion since the spring but first confirmed by those involved Thursday would move the team into a 7,000-seat arena to be built opposite the parking lot of FirstEnergy, home of the Lakewood BlueClaws, an affiliate of baseball's Philadelphia Phillies.
The arena would host 40 hockey games a season and could be a partner with the Devils' $310 million home under construction in Newark. Because the Devils would operate both venues, any concert, circus or entertainment event held in Newark could also be held in Lakewood, said Sen. Robert W. Singer, R-Ocean, who is helping negotiate the deal.
Singer is "hoping within the next 30 days we have a signed agreement," although Devils co-owner Jeff Vanderbeek described the talks as "preliminary discussions."Vanderbeek added he will "very, very seriously consider" any written proposal.
Still, local negotiators see the deal as a spark plug for millions of dollars in tax ratables for Lakewood and a chance for the Devils to solidify their fan base by shuttling the minor-league River Rats from their current home in Albany, N.Y., to the Jersey Shore.
More important, those advocates say, the arena also would bring mainstream concerts, hockey tournaments and national circus tours to Ocean County creating a new tourism draw for a seaside county already known for its beaches.
"The opportunities are endless," Singer said.
Before hockey fans start sharpening their skates, though, the ambitious plan has several major obstacles.
First, Lakewood no longer has development rights to the 7 acres on which it would build the stadium. That land is under contract to ( Govoha's) Cedarbridge Development Corp., which has a deal in place with the township to create a high-tech office park next to the BlueClaws' ballpark at Cedar Bridge and New Hampshire avenues.
Second, the township has to figure out how to pay up to a $50 million price tag, which is roughly double what it cost to build the baseball stadium.