Barely 24 hours after the Nets organization got good news about the sale of bonds for the Barclays Arena in Brooklyn, talks to temporarily move the Nets from the Izod Center to the Prudential Center in Newark have apparently unraveled, according to a report in the Star-Ledger this afternoon:
“I don’t know that it’s dead, but from what I’m hearing, any sort of activity … will have to await the next administration,” conceded Jerold L. Zaro, who had been working to broker the deal on behalf of the Corzine administration.
The proposed plan had the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and the New Jersey Devils working together to book events at both arenas and share revenues, while allowing the Nets to break their lease at the Izod Center and move to the more modern Prudential Center. The Nets would move again when the Barclays Arena opened in Brooklyn. But the Sports and Exposition Authority has apparently pulled out of talks, and is not looking to negotiate the lease for the Nets at this time, according to the Star-Ledger.
Brett Yormark told reporters that the organization is not giving up just yet on its proposed plans:
“We continue to be encouraged about the prospect of making an interim move to the Pru Center,” said Brett Yormark, the president and chief executive of Nets Sports and Entertainment.
Meanwhile, in related news, Bruce Ratner finalized the proposed deal to sell an 80 percent stake in the team to Mikhail Prokhorov. Russian’s richest man must be approved by the NBA before he can take control of the team.
This report is a total bummer. While the move to Newark would have only been temporary, it would have helped breathe some new life in this organization while they waited for their official new start to begin in Brooklyn in a few years (potentially). If all sides can’t come back to the table, the Nets will likely continue to languish at the Izod Center in front of sparse, disinterested crowds, who are only going to grow more bitter and angry as the team starts packing up for greener pastures in Brooklyn. The city of Newark proved at the two preseason games in October that they were eager for a chance to host a basketball team, and while there was certainly no guarantee of nightly sellouts at the Prudential Center if the Nets moved there, between the passionate city population and the arena’s accessibility to mass transit, I would have to guess they were going to be a better draw than at the Meadowlands. If this is politically motivated because Corzine lost the election in November, then shame on everyone.