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February 19, 2010
Nets officially headed to Newark for next two seasons
This almost slipped past me, since it's only been reported at the bottom of NBA trade deadline pieces, but the New Jersey Nets finally got approval to move from the Meadowlands to Newark for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. The Nets will pay the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority $4 million to break their old lease; no immediate word on whether Newark's Prudential Center will still send concerts to the Meadowlands in exchange (though the two arenas did apparently agree to a "non-disparagement clause" to stop either side from publicly dissing the other), or how that whole ticket tax imbroglio worked out.
The long-term plan is for the Nets to be in Brooklyn starting in 2013, though work is still moving slowly at the planned Brooklyn arena site — there have been some street closings and a crane or two are on-site, but the private properties the state had said it would seize by eminent domain this winter are still waiting for the marshals to arrive. And they have their chains ready.
"Only been reported at the bottom"? This was the lead story in the Newark Star-Ledger this morning.
The Star-Ledger? Are they still in the league?
I guess I should have said "in the New York papers." Or "in the papers that get any love from Google News."
The words "New Jersey Nets" and "bottom" just go together too well, I guess.
it's fantastic news for an NBA fan, truth be told. This means I can take the Amtrak up to Newark and back when my Portland TrailBlazers come around (I'm a Rose City expat stuck in DC), which is much easier than commuting by car to the Meadowlands, much cheaper than trying to get tickets at MSG, much safer than trying to take transit in Philly to a game... Cory Booker got the job done here. He's got a building, he's putting people in it. Good for him.
It's even more convenient for New Yorkers, since you can take PATH to within a couple of blocks of the arena for $1.75.
There's still rampant speculation around here that the Nets are considering Newark as a serious fallback plan if Brooklyn falls through, for either lawsuit or financial reasons. I suspect it's more a Plan Z than Plan B &mdash if Bruce Ratner hasn't been scared off of Brooklyn yet, I'm not sure what will dissuade him — but you can't totally rule it out.
I've followed the Nets situation through NetsDaily.com and I have to say that Barclays Center is a done deal. I just don't see how they screw this project up after all the b.s. they've been through.
What this does is allow the City of Newark to showcase the Prudential Center to other NBA team looking to relocate such as the Kings or Bucks who can't get a new arena to save their lives. Then the Timberwolves or Pacers who have financial trouble. Also, the Grizzlies or Hornets who have expiring leases in 2014.
So by 2014-15 at the latest, the City of Newark will have the NBA full time. I suspect other cities like San Jose, Anaheim, Vancouver & Seattle have opportunities for teams too. The NBA needs a new CBA badly so it can stop the relocation mess. They're the worst ones of any major sports league.
This brings up an important point, one I neglected to mention above: As part of the deal to move to Newark, the Nets gave up their territorial rights to New Jersey. So Newark could absolutely be in play for those other teams after 2013, since NJ is a much better market than lots of small cities.
I wouldn't pay too much attention to "expiring leases," though. Leases can be easily extended, or broken a year or two early (cf. the Nets), so it doesn't matter all that much what year they expire.