Jersey City's Take On This Boondoggle
Jersey Journal: In Our Opinion
Nets stuck with Jersey address?
Friday, October 03, 2008
Remember when the New Jersey Nets of the NBA was expected to move out of the Meadowlands Sports Complex to a Frank Gehry-designed arena in Brooklyn?
It is quite possible the Nets will be staying with us a bit longer. The Wall Street crisis and legal problems are close to making a worst case scenario a reality for team owner Bruce Ratner.
Ratner purchased the franchise and used it and the promise of a modern indoor arena as leverage to get New York City and Empire State approvals to construct a billion-dollar-plus project, Atlantic Yards. The complex would include 16 skyscrapers, an 18,000-seat arena for the Nets, and thousands of apartments in Brooklyn.
Last week, Ratner said that the continuous legal battles with those opposed to the project have delayed the arena groundbreaking, once scheduled to open in 2006 and then delayed to 2010. Now the Nets say the arena will be ready in 2011.
At this rate, the Freedom Tower will be filled with tenants before the Nets bounce a ball in Brooklyn.
Four months ago, Goldman Sachs assured that all financing would be in place for a $950 million arena, the Star-Ledger reported. Last week, the financial giant would only issue a "no comment" when asked if the money is there. The Wall Street crisis has put a damper on available credit. Ratner is still hoping the federal government will approve $800 million in tax-exempt bonds backed by the New York City and the state.
As for the Nets, they have been playing in the aging Izod Center that will soon share the neighborhood with Xanadu, a mega-mall. A stone's throw away, the NFL Giants and Jets will be playing in a state-of-art new football stadium.
Having already spent millions, Ratner will not give up his Brooklyn dream. Considering the expensive uphill climb he faces, the Nets owner would be wise to make a deal with the New Jersey Devils for the Nets to play in the new Prudential Center arena in Newark with the idea of keeping the franchise in New Jersey another decade, or longer. Any financing Ratner eventually obtains could go into that part of an already scaled-down version of Atlantic Yards that he cares about - skyscrapers and apartments.