Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's all negotiable: the Nets warm to the Newark option, but New Jersey legislators have their qualms

Well, Nets CEO Brett Yormark has made it official, issuing a statement yesterday, according to the Star-Ledger:
“After the master closing for our Brooklyn transaction this fall,” Yormark said in a statement, “we may consider an agreement to play our home games at the Prudential Center through the time we move to our new home in Brooklyn in the 2011-12 NBA season."
In other words, it's all negotiable, as I've written before.

Quick recap

Yormark in January said the Nets wouldn't play exhibition games in Newark.

They just played two. (Yes, as a couple of readers remind me, they got a guarantee and didn't have to require season ticketholders to buy preseason tickets . But that's the point--these things are negotiable.)

In May 20008, Yormark, according to the Star-Ledger, refused to consider a Newark option:
Yormark dismissed that as a possibility, saying sharing the Prudential Center with the Devils "is of no interest to us."

"We'll be in Brooklyn sometime in calendar year 2010, that's the goal," Yormark said
They won't be in Brooklyn until 2012, in a best-case scenario, so Yormark--according to The Record--has in the past weeks joined the months-long talks about how the Izod Center and the Prudential Center can divvy up events.

Not so simple

But even if the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority and the operators of The Rock--the Devils and AEG-come to an agreement, they have to convince local legislators, and several prominent ones are wary, according to The Record's John Brennan.

As State Senate President Richard Codey pointed out, if the Nets move to Newark only briefly then the bargain doesn't look too good:
“What everyone is forgetting is that the Nets, themselves, determine their fate,” Codey said. “We’ll find out in a month or so if they’re going to get an arena in Brooklyn. If not, they might go anywhere — St. Louis, Kansas City, Seattle? And the deal doesn’t work for the Devils unless they have the Nets [longterm].”
So, add another endgame to the endgame. If the Brooklyn project moves ahead, Yormark and the Nets likely would want Newark as an interim home.

If the Brooklyn move dies, then the Nets are in play, with Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov (likely) off the scene, and the team's future--even for the 2010-11 season--unclear.

Newark with Prokhorov?

Maybe Newark boosters are trying to figure out how--longshot--they could get Prokhorov to stick with the purchase--despite promises the deal's on only with the move--even if the Brooklyn move dies.

Though Newark ain't NYC, the idea is not without logic, or so I speculate. Prokhorov has $9.5 billion, so much that he could lose tens of a millions of dollars a year with no pain. The scarce commodity is an NBA team, wherever it's located.

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