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Basketball team 'Nets' sponsor money for controversial move.

by John Majeski
Real Estate Weekly

21 May 2008

The Nets basketball organization has secured another $100 million in sponsorship deals for its planned Brooklyn arena--an announcement that team officials said should quiet doubters.

"This (sponsorship) is validation that this project is alive and well and there's a lot of interest," said Nets President and CEO Brett Yormark.

Sponsorship totals are now paying about $500 million of the project $950 million cost for the Barclays Center. The Frank Gehry-designed arena is part of the $4 billion Atlantic Yards mixed-use project being undertaken by team owner and developer Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner. Local opposition and an unstable economy have raised serious questions about the feasibility of the entire project while rumors have swirled of a push by New Jersey politicians and investors to have Ratner bring the Nets to Newark instead.

The team, currently based at the Izod Center in the Meadowlands, has denied such talks. "We've never been approached by any politicians," Yormark said. "We've not been approached by anyone. We plan on going to Brooklyn. We plan on going there in 2010."

Nets spokesman Barry Baum said sponsorship deals--dubbed "founding partners" deals--were reached with Izod, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Anheuser-Busch and a handful of other companies. Baum expects that more agreements will be reached in the coming months.

Baum said the individual Basketball team 'nets' funds sponsorships are for multiple years and range from about $1.5 million to $5 million.

The new arena will not be flooded with several different advertisers from any one vantage point. "They each get a neighborhood in the building," Baum said, such as a concourse or club. "They quote, unquote own it. They have exclusivity in the area."

Jones soda has previously signed on as an advertiser, Baum said, while Barclays Bank scooped up the naming fights to the tune of $400 million.

Ken Bails, a West Orange, N J-based realtor, has said unnamed investors and politicians want to see the Nets move into the Prudential Center in Newark, the home of the New Jersey Devils hockey team.

"If Rather moves the team to Brooklyn he will be keeping with his plan," Baris said. "Certainly the money is going to go a long way toward helping him."

The New Jersey Devils have not responded to inquiries about the idea of sharing arena space with the Nets.