Star Ledger: Atlantic Yards breaks ground: Nets are the heartbreak kids

Star Ledger: Atlantic Yards breaks ground: Nets are the heartbreak kids

You’d think it would be easy to say goodbye to a team with fewer victories than Congressional Republicans. But chances are the Nets are going to get good and sexy before they leave — like the spouse who loses the weight, gets the makeover, then runs off with, well, a Russian millionaire.

They’ll draw better at The Rock than they did at Tumbleweed Center in East Rutherford, but fans will have to decide whether to fall in love again or opt for a casual, open relationship. After all, another NBA team could move in after the Nets leave.

We feel a heartbreak coming on.

NY Daily News: Developer must build a bridge at Atlantic Yards

NY Daily News: Developer must build a bridge at Atlantic Yards

I recently sat through a jarring press conference at which officials abruptly announced that the city has run out of Section 8 vouchers. Other tax incentive programs have reached limits that may or may not be curable in the near future. And locating and implementing subsidy programs will be harder now because of unresolved animosity between Ratner and anti-project leaders.

Much of it is petty. City Councilwoman Letitia James (D, WFP-Brooklyn), who represents the people who argued for killing the project long after its inevitability was clear, says she wasn’t invited to today’s groundbreaking. That is an unnecessary slap in the face. (James told me she will remain at City Hall working on budget issues during the ceremony.)

Should they decide to continue on to the Atlantic Yards after two or three years in Newark, the New Jersey Nets get to make their new home in the midst of this kind of drama. Should they stay here, they would have an amped-up fan base, a neighborhood that would welcome their arrival, and the benefit of the Cory Booker Twitter marketing machine.

Just sayin’.

New York TImes: Nets Laud Future Newark Home as a Bridge to Brooklyn

New York TImes: Nets Laud Future Newark Home as a Bridge to Brooklyn

The modern Prudential Center, in most ways the antithesis of Izod, is a better bridge to Brooklyn, Yormark said. He said that railroad access to Newark would let Brooklynites sample the Nets for a while (although the tasting might be better if LeBron James or Dwyane Wade were playing there), and that a modern facility would help Rod Thorn, the Nets’ president, recruit players.

“We’re excited about the move,” said Kris Humphries, a reserve forward whom the Nets acquired from Dallas in January. “How can we not be?”

Booker tied his city’s comeback fortunes to those of the Nets, and spoke at times as if the benefits of the Nets’ pit stop would never end. Reminded of the team’s short-term lease, he said: “You can’t discount the revenue they will bring to the city. It’ll move our city forward.”

It’s official. This isn’t so much a sports story as it is an urban renewal story: the move is temporary, and the Nets are one of the worst-performing franchises in the NBA right now. Bringing the Nets to Newark won’t solve all of their problems, but they will see an established fan base come out to see them play. The more exciting thing for this city might be that Newark will be a destination for watching some of basketball’s greats to come play (and beat the Nets).

Nets Slowly Making Their Way to Brooklyn

With the collapse of support from financiers, the Atlantic Yards community, and NJ Nets fans, one wonders if this story will end in anything other than hubris: For Nets, Barriers to Brooklyn Fall Slowly.

After the hundreds of millions of dollars lost, and final completion for the arena now set for as late as 2011, the break-even point for this project has to be in the late 20-teens. I think a lot of people would love to see this project fail and the Nets come to Newark.

But, not all is lost: the Nets will play two pre-season games here in Newark in October. Who’s coming with me?

But Forest City must break ground by Dec. 31 to meet the Internal Revenue Service’s deadline to sell tax-exempt bonds. If the developer misses the deadline, financing costs will leap. “Bruce and I have never talked about missing that deadline,” Yormark said.

The same deadline appears to loom for the 20-year, $400 million naming-rights deal between the Nets and Barclays. Barclays extended the sponsorship beyond last year because of continued construction delays, but a spokesman refused to say if it would do so again.

Daniel Goldstein, a leader and spokesman of Develop Don’t Destroy, said he did not believe Forest City would meet the deadline, not with his group’s appeal of the eminent domain decision and intention to file more lawsuits to delay the project until its death.

“They’re not going to get financing this year or control of the land this year,” Goldstein said during an interview in his condominium on Pacific Street, which would be about midcourt of the proposed arena. He, his wife and baby daughter are the only occupants of the nine-story building, the other 30 unit owners having long ago accepted Ratner’s buyout offers.

“I don’t even think they know what will make them give up,” he said.

One also wonders if this guy was living where center ice at the Prudential Center is now whether Newark’s arena ever would have been built.

Shaq Wants to Bring the Nets to Newark

Steve Politi opines for the Star Ledger on the possibility of whether the Nets might ever come to Newark.

While idle speculation has been free-flowing since construction of the Prudential Center was completed, the prospect has caught the attention of real-estate developer and NBA phenomenon Shaquille O’Neal: Shaquille O’Neal may be the man to bring New Jersey Nets to the Prudential Center.

Why the Nets insist on moving forward on what seems to be a doomed project, abhored by fans and Brooklyn residents escapes all logic. Hopefully, Shaq can bring some much needed sanity and influence into the deal and convince the Nets to stay in their home state.

The question nags at Shaquille O’Neal every time he visits his home city now, the same way it should nag at every basketball fan in this state. He sees the gleaming Prudential Center in the heart of a community that loves his sport, then shakes his head in wonder and frustration.

“Why,” he wants to know, “aren’t the Nets playing in Newark?”

On this topic, like everyone else, Shaq is stumped. The Nets should be playing in Newark, and not just for a few lousy preseason games as the team is proposing. And the 7-footer could be a major force in making them — to borrow his favorite Scrabble word — a Shaqtastic success.

Nets Arena May Not Be Finished Until 2011, Ratner Says

“Nets Arena May Not Be Finished Until 2011, Ratner Says”:

This in from a tipster: the New Jersey Nets arena planned for Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards will not be completed now until 2011 — three long years from now.

Seriously, Nets? Newark can get this done for you by next season. The arena is here and ready for you. Do New Jersey proud and stay here, do something good for a city that will welcome you here, and maintain your current fans.

Newark is a win-win for everyone except Forest City Ratner, who is just totally screwing with you guys.

The planned new Brooklyn basketball arena for the Nets now may not be ready until 2011, according to developer Forest City Ratner, as the company acknowledges that the time to build the structure may take it past its current completion goal of calendar year 2010.

Got a tip for the Daily Newarker?

Booker attempts to woo new-look Nets

“Booker attempts to woo new-look Nets”:

After some “initial jousting”:, it appears that Mayor Booker is getting more aggressive about keeping the New Jersey Nets in the garden state — and bringing some more nightlife to downtown Newark.

“I’m going to work very hard to make it happen,” Booker says. If the deal were to go through, the team would play at the Prudential Center, the newly built Devils’ home arena. Both teams played at the Izod Center, the former Continental Arena, in East Rutherford, N.J., before the Devils moved to the new facility in Newark last season.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a fight,” Mr. Booker said. “I think it’s going to be settled in an amicable way.”

He sees the Nets as a centerpiece to the continued revitalization of the city.

“The Nets were made for Newark,” he said. “It’s the comeback city. And I think the Nets will be the comeback team in the NBA, and they should do it here.”

We would “love to see”: the Nets play in downtown Newark. It seems that it would be win-win for just about everyone. Except for maybe Ratner’s pride.

Newark Live: Nets say showroom is proof of move

“Nets say showroom is proof of move”:

The Nets CEO delivers a total buzzkill to the possibility of bringing the team to the Prudential Center.

The Nets Thursday showed off a full-size replica of the luxury suites they expect to feature in their $950 million Brooklyn arena, in yet another push to demonstrate they are serious about leaving New Jersey in 2010.

The opening of the Barclays Center’s midtown Manhattan showroom kicks off the Nets’ public effort to market 130 suites with an average price tag of $300,000, as well as 3,200 premium seats, said Brett Yormark, the team’s chief executive.

“We would just love to have the Nets here in Newark,” said Joseph DiVincenzo, the Essex County executive who is involved in the effort. “I strongly believe that it would be good for them and for us economically.”

Yormark dismissed that as a possibility, saying sharing the Prudential Center with the Devils “is of no interest to us.”

Theories Abound on the Newark Nets

Developer Bruce Ratner published a column in the Sunday New York Daily News that the Atlantic Yards project is moving forward at a steady — if not rapid — pace. Is it a timely public relations message? Or a sign that Ratner is on the ropes?

Rumors of Atlantic Yards’ demise, stirred by opponents, have been greatly exaggerated. The project is moving forward in its entirety, and in the coming years it will bring jobs, housing and an improved quality of life to Brooklyn.

It looks as though things are going swimmingly in court — Ratner cites 18 favorable court decisions out of 18 cases so far — and that deals are getting done. But in the whole piece, Ratner mentions the New Jersey Nets exactly once.

Meanwhile, Jersey officials are sharing their opinions freely in the media.

“Four years later, we’re getting a rendering?” Codey said yesterday. “It’s becoming ridiculous. They’re not going to be playing in Brooklyn in 2010.”

“Instead of him fighting with the constituents there in Brooklyn we would welcome him here in Newark,” DiVincenzo said.

Esmeralda Diaz Cameron, a city spokeswoman, said Newark “would love to have the New Jersey Nets call the city of Newark home.”

Sure, some of it is just that good, old-fashioned brand of trash talk that only you only find in New Jersey. But, I particularly love the “on message” feel of Ms. Cameron’s statement: it’s wonderfully positive and polished without revealing any information that isn’t meant to be public — I hope they pay her well. ;-)

While light on inside information (the title is pure speculation), a Jersey Journal piece also published today would throw water on Ratner’s column: The Nets may stay in Jersey after all.

Ratner had hoped to move the team into the New York home for the 2009-2010 season, but there is no way the arena will be ready. In fact, the entire Atlantic Yards project is progressing very slowly.

The Nets owner is facing a very tough credit market that is getting tighter every week. A bleak economy will only continue to hurt the prospects of the Brooklyn development. It is the perfect time for New Jersey interests to put on a full-court press and have the NBA squad become the second tenant in Newark.

So, stacking up against the arena in Brooklyn are local opposition, tight credit markets, and increasing construction costs — and legal battles only add to the costs as deal maker Goldman Slacks can’t find funding until Forest City Ratner can close the books on their court cases. But, according to this New York Sun piece, moving to Newark might not be a slam-dunk either:

Getting the Nets into Vanderbeek’s building is simple on paper, but it is also extremely complicated, because of how revenues generated inside his building are distributed. Ratner would need access to monies from luxury boxes, club seats, and in-arena concession areas.

Vanderbeek would theoretically have to give up lucrative revenue streams from NBA games that he would normally keep from non-Devils events in the building. But Ratner could not financially survive without getting the lion’s share of those revenues.

As I read it, Ratner purchased the Nets for the purpose of getting leverage to begin a building project in Brooklyn, the centerpiece of which would be the Barclay’s Center arena. Due to legal delays and increased costs, the developer has scaled the project back to phases — the first of which will be the arena planned to begin later this year, and the last of which will be completed in 2018.

Booker and Vanderbeek are reportedly hoping to find investors to bring the Nets to Newark, which would be fantastic for the city, for fans, the team, and its investors. But, in order to do that, Ratner has to be selling.

The question really lies in whether the Atlantic Yards project can move forward without the Nets. Nobody’s going to build an arena without a team to play there, and it’s unclear what would be left of the project without the arena. In his column, Ratner highlights more than a dozen residential buildings and a Frank Gehry-designed commercial tower.

What do you think? Could Atlantic Yards move forward without the Nets or the arena? Do you think Vanderbeek and Booker have a card or two up their sleeve to entice Forest City Ratner to sell the team?