NetsAreScorching asked Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, one of the primary groups opposing the Atlantic Yards development plan that would bring the Nets to Brooklyn, for some additional reaction regarding the team’s sale to Russian oligarch Prokhorov today:
NAS: Does this announcement of Prokhorov taking a controlling stake in the Nets change how opponents of the Atlantic Yards development plan to fight this project in the coming months?
DDDB: The answer is no, other than to make sure that our city, state and federal elected officials, as well as the NBA, does their proper due diligence on vetting Mr. Prokhorov.
NAS: If this deal is approved by the NBA, is there any doubt on your end that Ratner will have the finances he needs to go forward on this project?
DDDB: This deal does basically nothing to help Ratner with the arena financing or the financing for the rest of the project. The $200 million reportedly coming from Prokhorov presumably goes, mostly, to buy out the Nets owners (not sure if that includes Ratner in full or in part) who wanted out from the team. It doesn’t appear to be going toward the project or the arena construction. Even if it is in part or in full, it is a long way from the total financing Ratner needs.
NAS: How critical does the hearing on Oct. 14th in Albany become now to the future of the AY opposition?
DDDB: No more or less critical today than it was yesterday. Ratner has legal hurdles and financial hurdles. The legal hurdles didn’t change today, and while the financial hurdles may have changed a bit, this is clearly not where Ratner wanted to be. His potential deal with Prokhorov, if it survives scrutiny seems to be a desperate deal of last resort that doesn’t go far enough for Ratner. On top of that, today’s announced deal brings even more moving parts in while diminishing Ratner’s control.
NAS: In your release, you bring up some of Prokhorov’s questionable background, but the FCRC statement includes comments from NBA commissioner David Stern who has seemingly endorsed this deal. What do you think that says for the current state of the NBA, financial and otherwise?
DDDB: I don’t think it says anything good about the NBA. But they can’t simply turn the other way and not do their due diligence. We have little doubt that Stern is desperate to get the Nets out of the Meadowlands, and that means he’ll go very far to make sure his owners approve a very questionable deal. But lawyers may not allow him to be as desperate as he is. We’ll see what happens.