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Newark Mayor Suggests Nets Could Be Up for Sale, Moved Soon

May 16, 2009 – 3:15 PM
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Tom Ziller

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Newark and the Nets have an uneasy relationship right now. The Nets, waiting for Brooklyn, play in the contemptible IZOD Center, a cavernous, inconveniently located mess, up in East Rutherford. Newark has a shiny new gym, the Prudential Center, home of the Devils and (occasionally) the JoBros. Newark would like the Nets to spend some time at Prudential until Atlantic Yards in the BK is ready. The Nets don't like that idea.

As such, the folks in Newark -- particularly mayor Cory Booker -- have fired cannonballs at Bruce Ratner and the Nets franchise, pushing the "Brooklyn ain't happening, so move to Newark!" storyline hard. Booker turned up the dial quite a bit this week by publicly predicting Ratner will be putting the Nets up for sale soon.

The Bergen Record's John Brennan has the quotes, from a Newark radio station interview.
Booker - saying he was "going to go way out on a limb here and let you know maybe more than I should" - replied that he is "confident now more than ever that the deal in Brooklyn is just not going anywhere. I think there's going to be a comeuppance very soon where the team is going to go up for sale. That's my prediction. I really do believe it.

"I've watched the deal very closely. I know people involved in the deal, and it does not look like it's going anywhere in Brooklyn."
Booker goes on to talk about potential ownership groups coming from Kansas City and Seattle -- not Brooklyn or Newark. Is this rabble-rousing to put more pressure on Ratner? Just talk for the sake of talk?

The timing of Booker's prediction is odd, considering on Friday Ratner would what his folks deemed a major victory in the (seemingly endless) court battle over Atlantic Yards. But Booker isn't talking about the Yards falling apart for legal reasons. He's talking about finances. And to be quite honest, there hasn't been much great news on that tip. Just six months ago things looked so troubling that people took seriously a rumor that a Russian oligarch wanted to buy the Nets. A sale of the Nets has been rumored a while, you see. Every minute with an arena in Brooklyn intensifies those rumors.

Ratner released a statement (quoted by the Record) reaffirming a commitment to breaking ground on the project this year. Finances are still being set in order, though. The 2011-12 season is the current target for the debut of the Brooklyn Nets.
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