View Full Version : Newark hoop dreams - Newark Star-Ledger

04-29-2008, 01:36 PM
Newark hoop dreams
Posted by Star-Ledger editorial board April 21, 2008 10:30PM
An arena was supposed to be growing in Brooklyn to provide a new home for the Nets in 2010, when the basketball team leaves the Izod Center in the Meadowlands.

For those looking at Brooklyn from New Jersey, the wish that something -- anything -- might happen to keep the Nets in New Jersey has been a hope that would not die.

Some things have happened. The real estate and credit markets have changed since the $4 billion Brooklyn Atlantic Yards development, with thousands of condos, other homes and an 18,000-seat arena, was proposed. Financing is no longer easy. The payoff is no longer certain. The Nets are losing $40 million a year.

When developer Bruce Ratner bought the team in 2004, the arena's estimated cost was $600 million. That has grown to $950 million, which would make it the most expensive arena ever. Delays caused by local opposition and financing problems could make it more expensive than that.

Those who dream in New Jersey know the rumors that developer Ratner bought the Nets only to sweeten the appeal of the development project. The reverie is that if Brooklyn falls through, a coalition of New Jersey buyers (led by the New Jersey Devils hockey team, perhaps?) would take the Nets off Ratner's hands. Then the Nets would move into the shiny new Prudential Center, which the Devils built with the city of Newark. Whether the financing of the Newark arena made sense (the city put up the lion's share), it's built and it draws tons of fans via mass transit. The arena here was originally planned as a home for the Nets, and that's where the team belongs.

What stands in the way of the dream? Well, there's Ratner. "Newark is not even a consideration. We're moving to Brooklyn," said a spokesman for the builder and the team. They are planning to break ground this year. They say.

Apart from whatever Ratner may be dreaming, there is the stumbling block of a clause in the Nets' contract with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns the Izod Center. If the Nets leave to play anywhere other than Brooklyn, the team must pay the authority a penalty that starts out at $12 million a year.

That clause was generally considered to be anti-Newark. Considering that the authority is a state agency, the provision seemed as hideous and out of place as a giant, psychedelic Ferris wheel in a swamp.

Something has happened. The hateful clause is being explained as a nonhostile means of preventing the Nets from pitting the Meadowlands against Newark. It was meant to avoid a bidding war for a short-term contract while the Brooklyn arena was built.

In fact, sources have told The Star-Ledger editorial board that if the Nets sign a long-term deal to play in Newark, the sports authority would waive that clause and happily cooperate with the Prudential Center for the greater glory and profit of both New Jersey venues.

If the authority is beginning to see the light, who knows what else might happen? Clap your hands and say, "I believe," sports fans. Might as well keep dreaming.

04-29-2008, 01:38 PM
Investors urge Ratner to ditch Brooklyn for Newark arena

By David Jones

Developer Bruce Ratner has been approached by several New Jersey investors and public officials on a plan to relocate the Nets to the Prudential Center in downtown Newark, according to sources familiar with the talks.

The investors would like Ratner to have the Nets partner with the New Jersey Devils and move into the Prudential Center in Newark, where the hockey team has just finished its first full season.

"They're being wooed politically as well as by the private sector," said Ken Baris, a West Orange, New Jersey-based realtor, who is familiar with some of the investors who have approached Ratner. "There's a lot of people that kind of want to keep it quiet, but [at the same time] are looking forward to a lot more leaks."

A move to Newark would effectively end Ratner's efforts to move the Nets to a proposed $950 million Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, which was to serve as the centerpiece of his controversial $4 billion Atlantic Yards complex and would be the most expensive basketball arena in the country. Nets officials denied there have been any plans to move to Newark and have insisted they are moving forward with the Brooklyn arena.

"The Nets are moving to Brooklyn, period," said Barry Baum, a spokesman for Forest City Ratner who handles the Nets.

Still, sources say the discussions have life.

Since the October opening of the Prudential Center, Newark officials have urged New Jersey Governor, Jon Corzine, to shut down the Izod Center in East Rutherford, where the Nets have played since 1981.

After failing to make the playoffs and trading its star player, Jason Kidd, the Nets are expected to lose more than $40 million for the 2007-2008 season. They currently plan to stay at the Izod Center for at least another two seasons.

"If they don't get that arena built in Brooklyn in the next couple of years, I'm doubtful that Ratner would want to keep paying for losses for the Nets," said Michael Cramer, professor of sports management at New York University. "It would have been good to get the Nets and Devils in the same arena."

Baum said, however, that the Nets are set to announce new corporate partners in May for luxury suites at the proposed Barclays arena, and are working to sell season tickets and corporate sponsors at the Izod Center for the remaining two years at that site.

New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Van der Beek declined to comment on the Nets. But, he said, the arena is doing much better than "our wildest expectations." He said the Devils were averaging about 16,000 fans a game and that the arena would average about 175 event nights in its first year. He said he hoped that the number of events would climb to 225 per year in the future.

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo wants the Nets to join the Devils in Newark, and has publicly questioned claims by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority that the arena can turn a profit with no hockey team and limited public transportation.

"We would welcome the Nets with open arms," DiVincenzo told The Real Deal. "If anything could be negotiated I think it would be great." A provision in the Nets lease with the NJSEA calls for a $12 million penalty if the Nets move to another arena outside of Brooklyn or Queens, however the Star Ledger reported earlier this week that officials might be willing to waive the penalty.

Ratner told the New York Times in March that he would not be able to finance the full 16 building Atlantic Yards project for several years due to a weak financing environment and the inability to find an anchor tenant for the Miss Brooklyn office tower. However, he said, that he would move ahead with the arena by the end of 2008.

Atlantic Yards opponents have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case and officials from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn said they expect the court make a decision on whether to hear it by June.

04-29-2008, 04:39 PM
I am still holding out some hope that this crooklyn move won't go through. If they do stay in NJ - then I will again support the Nets. As of right now - I don't want crooklyn getting a successful team that they can be proud of. We went through all those years of the Nets losing and then the moment they start winning - they plan on packing up and leaving NJ. I want to see them at the Prudential Center.

What are your thoughts Newarkdevil5? Do you think that the Nets will become a Newark or a Crooklyn team?

Edit - btw - do you believe that the provision in the nets contract is only so there wasn't a bidding war between Newark and the Meadowlands for a short-term team? I want to believe it - but I have overheard Meadowlands officials making derogatory remarks toward Newark and the Prudential center - this was before it was opened though. NJ has the great past time of fight against itself - instead of standing up against NY and Philadelphia. I won't get onto that old subject again though. It just frustrates me to no end though.

04-30-2008, 11:31 AM
As far as whether I believe that the intention of that clause was benign, I don't. The NJSEA has changed slightly in its attituded toward Newark because it is already done and working, but when it was still in doubt they viewed it as the most unwelcome brand of competition.

As for the Brooklyn vs Newark thing, I'd obviously prefer Newark, but I'm not holding out too terribly much hope unless the Supreme Court steps in. Its nice to see that there are people making offers on the state's behalf though. If it works, I'd be thrilled. If not, don't plan on us ever having another NBA basketball team in NJ ever again.

04-30-2008, 11:11 PM

Effort under way to bring Nets to Newark's Prudential Center
by Ian T. Shearn, Maura McDermott and George E. Jordan/The Star-Ledger
Wednesday April 30, 2008, 8:52 PM

The owner of the Devils hockey team and Newark Mayor Cory Booker are seeking to assemble a group of investors to buy the Nets and move the basketball team to Newark, people familiar with the effort said.

In recent weeks, Devils owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek has met with Nets owner Bruce Ratner, while Booker has spoken to an official at Ratner's development company, Forest City Ratner Cos., according to three people with direct knowledge of the discussions. The outcome of each talk was characterized as "open-ended." The parties spoke on the condition they not be identified.

The effort to bring the Nets to Newark, where they would play at the Prudential Center along with the Devils, comes amid growing speculation on whether Ratner can complete a $4 billion retail and residential development in Brooklyn, given the deepening crisis in the credit markets.

To date, there is no indication the Nets are for sale, and Ratner repeatedly has said he is happy owning the team and looks forward to moving to a new arena in Brooklyn.

"The team is absolutely not for sale," Ratner said through his spokesman, Howard Rubenstein. "We're inches away from completing the deal in Brooklyn."

At the same time, one of the sources said Vanderbeek has been approached over the past two years by a half dozen people who have expressed interest in investing in a Nets purchase. It was unclear who Vanderbeek and Booker have spoken to about a potential purchase. But two of the sources said Booker also has tried to entice Ratner by offering him development possibilities in Newark.

Asked this week about his interest in the Nets, Vanderbeek would say only: "The Nets have stated they are going Brooklyn. We wish them all the luck in the world."

Booker's office declined comment.

Carl Goldberg, chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, said he believes the Nets could remain at the Izod Center in the Meadowlands.

"The likelihood of the Nets actually building a new facility in Brooklyn and leaving our facility at the Izod Center is diminishing by the moment," Goldberg told a group of Star-Ledger editors in February. "The cost of steel and concrete and the challenges of building a facility of that nature over the railyards are becoming more difficult."

Read the full story in Thursday's Star-Ledger.

05-01-2008, 11:43 AM
Here's the full story link.


Here's a link to some of the problems facing the Brooklyn Arena project.


05-01-2008, 03:34 PM
I really hope the Nets join the Devils in Newark. Not only would it benefit both the Nets organization and the city of Newark, but it would also be a source of pride for the state of New Jersey. It would show our people that we have something to call our own, something that is unique and not affiliated with either New York or Pennsylvania, something that we can all be proud of.

The people of New Jersey need more stuff like that.


05-01-2008, 08:23 PM
Booker to Brooklyn: Let's settle Nets matter on basketball court
by Jeffery C. Mays/The Star-Ledger
Thursday May 01, 2008, 7:25 PM
If left up to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the battle over the Nets won't be decided by the credit markets or zoning boards, but rather on the basketball court.

Booker challeged Markowitz to a one-on-one game of hoops for the Nets after the borough president released a statement today calling Newark, Brooklyn's 'western suburb" and insiting New Jersey's largest city will never steal Nets from Brooklyn.

The trash talk came in response to a story that ran in The Star-Ledger today that reported New Jersey Devils owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek and Booker are quietly trying to assemble an investment team should plans to build a new arena in Brooklyn go asunder. ΒΆ

Nets owner Bruce Ratner has said the team is not for sale. But that wasn't enough for Markowitz.

"After years of obscurity mired in the Meadowlands, the Nets are ready for a slam dunk in the Brooklyn big leagues. Who knows, maybe the Devils want to lace up and come here too! If my esteemed colleague Cory Booker in Brooklyn's 'western suburb,' a.k.a. Newark, New Jersey, is looking for a professional basketball team, maybe he should ask the Knicks," Markowitz said in a statement.

Booker responded by saying he would continue to pursue his "personal dream" of bringing the Nets to the $375 million Prudential Center "no matter how unrealistic."

"I yield to...Marty Markowitz, my esteemed colleague in the "eastern suburb" of Newark a.k.a Brooklyn, and would like to officially challenge him with the remaining shreds of my athletic pride to a one and one basketball game to battle for the Nets!"

Markowitz' website said one of his campaign promises was to bring the first national sports team back to Brooklyn since the Dodgers left.

"I accept Mayor Booker's challenge and must remind him that I am only 5-foot-5," said Markowitz. "I'll accept the challenge only if I can have a ringer play against him."

05-02-2008, 01:26 AM
Don't you find this statement hilarious and rather ironic in terms of Brooklyns attitude toward Newark - "Markowitz' website said one of his campaign promises was to bring the first national sports team back to Brooklyn since the Dodgers left."

Unlike crooklyn - Newark HAS a professional sports team. :)

I think we should also remind him and NY every chance we get where they have to go to see their so-called "NY" teams and remind them where the Super Bowl trophy sits. The trophy is NOT in New York. :p