seek to extend NJ lease
Plans to relocate the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn in 2008 will be delayed.
Team owner Bruce Ratner was reported this week to be seeking a two-year
extension on his lease at the Meadowlands.
When Ratner purchased the team in 2004, he said the Nets would move from
the Jersey swamps to a Frank Gehry-designed arena at Atlantic Yards after
the 2007-2008 season.
But that timeline now appears in question, according to the Newark Star-Ledger
and other published reports.
Should Ratner get his lease extension, it could cost him dearly. According
to the Star-Ledger, the state of New Jersey is seeking to eliminate a
requirement that the state buy $750,000 of Nets tickets each year.
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which runs the Meadowlands,
may also ask the team to bear more game-day expenses, the paper reported.
The Nets say that the longer lay up in Jersey won’t affect the team’s
long-term goal of moving to Brooklyn.
“We have made a major investment in this team and in the real estate
at Atlantic Yards,” said team CEO Brett Yormark.
“Even if there is an unexpected delay, we are as determined as ever
to see this through.”
A spokesman for the developer, Joe DePlasco, couldn’t pinpoint when
the Nets would actually move to the Atlantic Yards arena.
“We are looking [to move] after the 2007-2008 season, 2008-2009 or
2009-2010,” he said Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Sports and Exposition Authority declined to comment
on the negotiations, but did express delight that the team may extend
its stay at the Continental Airlines Arena.
“The team’s attendance is up,” said the spokesman, Bernard
Spigner. “They can stay as long as they would like.”
Even if the lease is unchanged, the delay in moving to Brooklyn will cost
Gehry’s glass-walled Xanadu — the costliest arena ever —
was originally pegged to cost $600 million. But in the two years since
it was unveiled, construction costs have increased Ratner’s bottom
line by at least 20 percent, according to the Real Estate Board of New
“There is no question that costs have risen dramatically,” said
board spokeswoman Marolyn Davenport.
Ratner vice president Jim Stuckey has said delays cost the company $4
million a month.
In addition to routine project costs, the developer has paid to relocate
hundreds of people and businesses from his 24-acre footprint and, at the
same time, waged an expensive public relations campaign to win over residents
of these same neighborhoods.
Ratner’s spokespeople declined to say how much the company has spent
relocating residents and businesses or lobbying the public.
The arena will take at least three years to build and would be done in
the first phase of the decade-long construction project — which still
lacks final state approval.
That vote of confidence is expected this spring, after the release of
a final Environmental Impact Statement, according to the Empire State
“We want to advance the project as efficiently as possible making
sure we comply with all the legal requirements,” said ESDC spokeswoman
Opponents say they will try to delay the Nets’ move even further
by suing if the state tries to use its power of eminent domain to condemn
the remaining property in the footprint.
©2006 Community News Group