Can Newark Become the Next Oklahoma City?
Good on Newark for getting into a position which made this possible, and the team for making a smart interim decision. But starbound Cory Booker, Newark's young mayor, has bigger fish than the Nets on his mind. He wants Newark to use this opportunity to prove to the NBA it can handle a permanent team of its own.
At a press conference officially announcing the temporary move, Booker told reporters he hopes the two-year rental will prove that Newark is a big-league city, and that an expansion or relocated club in the city would thrive. Sound familiar? Oklahoma City leaders used the same tactic to prove their town's worth. OKC hosted the Hornets for most of two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Attendance was great, the fans were incredible, and by the time the Hornets returned to New Orleans Clay Bennett had no problem selling the league on Oklahoma. The two seasons with the Hornets proved OKC could be a great NBA city. (The Thunder's attendance success has further bolstered the case.)
Talking about that strategy and executing it are, of course, two different things. And the Nets have never been mistaken for a big box office draw, even when Jason Kidd took the team to the NBA Finals twice. But things are off to a good start, with the team offering some 2010-11 season tickets for $300. If the team can somehow land a marquee free agent, that's incredible value at a sparkling new venue.