The owner of the Devils hockey team and Newark Mayor Cory Booker are seeking to assemble a group of investors to buy the Nets and move the basketball team to Newark, people familiar with the effort said.
In recent weeks, Devils owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek has met with Nets owner Bruce Ratner, while Booker has spoken to an official at Ratner’s development company, Forest City Ratner Cos., according to three people with direct knowledge of the discussions. The outcome of each talk was characterized as “open-ended.” The parties spoke on the condition they not be identified.
The effort to bring the Nets to Newark, where they would play at the Prudential Center along with the Devils, comes amid growing speculation on whether Ratner can complete a $4 billion retail and residential development in Brooklyn, given the deepening crisis in the credit markets.
To date, there is no indication the Nets are for sale, and Ratner repeatedly has said he is happy owning the team and looks forward to moving to a new arena in Brooklyn.
“The team is absolutely not for sale,” Ratner said through his spokesman, Howard Rubenstein. “We’re inches away from completing the deal in Brooklyn.”
Great job by the Ledger on breaking this story. I sincerely hope it has legs: bringing the Nets to Newark would not only help keep a great New Jersey team in Jersey, but would be a boon to Newarkers in the virtuous circle that the Prudential Arena brings to the teams, the city, and fans at large.
Plus, this could totally get me watching basketball again.