The Nets were supposed to move to Brooklyn after the 2004 season, however they have yet to break ground on an area. Nets’ front-office officials are confident that they will be playing in Brooklyn for the 2011-2012 season.
So why haven’t they broken ground yet? Brett Yormark said the Bruce Ratner-owned team is awaiting resolution of an eminent-domain lawsuit before breaking ground on the Barclays Center. This hasn’t shook Yormark’s confidence though:
“It will happen. We’ll be there for the ’11-12 season. We’ve pre-sold 20 percent of our suites. We’ve got eight of our 14 founding partnerships already completely signed. Next week, we’ll announce our ninth.”
This is all well and good, but if this economy doesn’t get any better soon, building of the stadium will probably be delayed again. This post isn’t about the Brooklyn move though, it’s about where the Nets should be playing their home games while they are in New Jersey. The Prudential Center (The Rock) or the Izod Center?
All of this stuff has come to light recently due to comments made by Newark mayor Cory Booker where he said that the Medowlands and the Izod Center should be ruled out as a long-term home for the Nets. Mayor Booker is pushing for the Nets to play in Newark. Check out what he said to Gov. Corzine in a strongly worded letter:
“Should the Nets not build their project in Brooklyn, the Nets’ long-term home in New Jersey cannot be Izod. It must be Newark.”
Yesterday, eight Democratic lawmakers yesterday backed the idea of a “modernized Izod Center” in a letter to Gov. Jon Corzine. State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) said if the National Basketball League team is unable to achieve a planned move to Brooklyn, it would be a “no-brainer” for the franchise to remain in the Meadowlands. He said the National Hockey League Devils’ status as chief tenant at the Prudential Center would lead the NBA to frown on a Nets shift to Newark.
So what do I think? I think the Nets should be playing their home games at the Prudential Center. Why? Well lets look at this from the Nets’ perspective, the Prudential Center would be fuller than the Izod Center, and that isn’t even considering the rise in attendance that you would get because you can…you know…get to the Prudential Center. A fuller arena leads to a better atmosphere at home and that in turn leads to a better homecourt advantage.
I know the NBA wouldn’t be happy seeing one of their teams playing in a 18,500 person arena, but lets be honest, the Nets aren’t drawing people anyway in their 20,049 person arena. Looking at the attendence numbers for this year the Nets were 25th in attendence averaging 15,147 fans a game (their biggest draw was their home game against the Lakers – 19,990 – the only game that would overflow the Prudential Center). Is this because they are losing? Nope, their 2002-2003 season (where they made the NBA finals) they averaged 15,184 fans.
So why don’t the fans go to the Izod center? I can tell you from personal experience that it is just too far away. It is about a hour and a half from my house (I live in central Jersey) and there is no public transportation to take you there. It is a poor location for a professional team stadium. Lets say you finally make it to the arena though…then you walk in. The facility is just as poor as the location is (In a 2005 poll, USA Today rated it the worst arena in the NBA). Maybe this is why the Nets can’t get any real big free agents…