The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Wednesday slammed a controversial but decades-old deal to sell the World Trade Center naming rights to a nonprofit for just $10, calling it a “shameful episode” and vowing to cooperate with a possible investigation by the New York attorney general.
The 1986 deal also requires the authority to give the nonprofit group World Trade Centers Association free office space — which is valued at $500,000 — in the new, 1,776-foot-high 1 World Trade Center tower, in exchange for use of the name.
Several politicians, among them New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have expressed concern about the deal, Crain’s reported. Cuomo said in a statement that he has referred the matter to the attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, who will gauge whether the WTCA “properly acquired … and developed the exclusive rights to the World Trade Center brand.” Schneiderman will also determine whether former WTCA executive Guy Tozzoli, who made the deal, “improperly received the benefit of such intellectual property without right,” at the expense of the Port Authority and taxpayers.
The World Trade Center had been standing for over 15 years by the time the naming rights deal was made, and so had significant cachet by then, Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye said at the Wednesday meeting attended by Crain’s. Tozzoli earned millions by licensing the name through the WTCA to the World Trade Center complex. [Crain’s] – Hiten Samtani