With the start of the season Mark and I have been really focused on the games, so focused in fact, that there has been little attention paid to some of the off-the-court stuff happening with the Nets. Today, however, something happened that can’t really be ignored. In a 6-1 decision, the New York Court of Appeals has turned down critics’ arguments that the state’s Empire State Development Corp. violated New York’s constitution in pursuing eminent domain to acquire land for Atlantic Yards, including Barclays Center. According to the New York Times:
The last major obstacle to a groundbreaking for the $4.9 billionAtlantic Yards development in Brooklyn fell Tuesday when New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, dismissed a challenge to the state’s use of eminent domain on behalf of the developer, Bruce C. Ratner.
With the Mikhail Prokhorov ownership bid looking more and more like a possibility as each day passes, and now this decision, Brooklyn is more of a reality as it has ever been. As a result, the Jersey kid in me is a little sad, but the Nets fan in me is really pumped for this. Everyone likes to talk about this free-agency class and no matter how ridiculous it may sound, the allure of Brooklyn has the chance to draw more players than the allure of the Izod Center or the Prudential Center. So what’s the next step? Well, Ratner plans to start selling tax-free bonds next month. In the comments of his NetsDaily post, NetIncome talks about it:
The bonds will be authorized this morning by the Brooklyn Arena Land Development Corp., a state agency. The authorization will include details on the interest rate (the Nets did get investment grade on most but not all of the bonds), how much needs to be sold (not quite $700 million), and what will be covered (infrastructure beyond the arena).
They will then be marketed. How tough of a sell? A lot less tough than it was before this ruling.
Prokhorov will have to be approved by the NBA board of governors in the next few weeks. Stern has said the NBA understands that the arena deal cannot close without the NBA approval of Prokhorov as principal owner.
Even though it might look like the Nets and Ratner are crossing the finish line, there is a least one organization still fighting them. That’s right, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn. From a press release they have sent out:
The fight against the Atlantic Yards project is far from over. The community has four outstanding lawsuits against the project and, meanwhile, the arena bond financing clock ticks louder and louder for Ratner. While this is a terrible day for taxpaying homeowners in New York, this is not the end of our fight to keep the government from stealing our homes and businesses, Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg now need to decide if they want their legacy to be the next New London—a dust bowl in the heart of Brooklyn caused by the abuse of eminent domain, because that will be the outcome if they allow the property seizures and final clearance for Ratner’s unfeasible project.
If all goes according to plan though, the developer expects that construction of the arena will take about 28 months, enabling the Nets to move from East Rutherford, N.J., to Brooklyn about June 2012.