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Shaquille O’Neal Co-Owns, Operates Movie Theater Near Downtown Newark

Shaquille O'Neal (credit: LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Shaquille O’Neal (credit: LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Shaquille O’Neal has a new kind of movie project: theater owner.

O’Neal, a four-time NBA champion, grew up in Newark, and now co-owns and operates the CityPlex12 theater near downtown.

O’Neal and Newark Mayor Cory Booker formally opened the renovated, expanded theater Friday afternoon. It includes an auditorium with a 47-foot-wide screen. It partially reopened in May after being closed for renovations.

“The Newark Police Department helped raise me, the neighborhoods helped raise me, the big mommas of the church helped raise me and the teachers helped raise me,” O’Neal said at a press conference on Friday. “Someone made a comment saying, ‘He left, he became successful.’ No disrespect to your comment, but I’ve never left. I’ve always been here in Newark.”

The project added six screens and 20,000 feet to the theater on Springfield Ave.

“My vision was to build a world-class facility here,” O’Neal said. “This is the type of movie theater that I would go to, so I said to myself, ‘We want to build something that people would be proud of going to.'”

O’Neal, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2000, joked that the theater shouldn’t screen his movie “Kazaam” if it wants to stay in business.

Funding for the $7 million project came from Goldman Sachs Urban Investment group and other development companies. The theater will hold a promotion called “30 Days of Shaqness” that offers discounts and promotions.

Shaq returns to Newark in grand fashion! Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)