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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #22

Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off missing the playoffs, relying on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who have slipped interesting stuff into larger stories and blogs.

Twitter News from the Night Shift

Terrence Williams (TheRealTWill) doesn’t tweet that much. So we pay attention when he picks up the pace. It shows he’s excited, like he was just before 6 a.m. Friday, when he sent out these three tweets in rapid succession from the PNY Center.

"Just did a pre workout now about to do a real one in 10min, looking at my game calendar makes me wanna work harder, playoffs is not wishful

"Thinking this year, no not cause of me but this team is fast an hungry an we work hard so we giving 110% off top catch ya in 2hours

"Retweet that people"

Meanwhile, Chris Douglas Roberts has posted a Twitvid of him arriving at the Nets' practice facility Friday to get in some extra shooting 11 p.m.

"Told ya, man...I wasn't lying".

CDR also points out "I swear to God I couldve been VIP @ Jigga concert las night", a reference to Jay-Z's Madison Square Garden concert.

More About the Arena

Wondering why you haven’t seen images of Barclays Center? Did you miss them when the exteriors were released?

Wonder no more. There have been no architects’ renderings of the arena interior since Bruce Ratner switched from Frank Gehry to Ellerbe Becket and SHoP. In fact, all the renderings so far have come from the "hot" little New York firm, not the Kansas City specialists in arenas and stadiums. Of course, Ellerbe Becket is the interiors expert, having designed 16 NBA and NHL arenas while SHoP is known for its exotic exteriors, often of textured surfaces and has done no arena work. It’s possible we’ll see the interiors Monday at a public information session featuring the new designs and the architects.

And for those adventurous enough to travel across two rivers, the design and model will be available for public viewing at the Brooklyn Borough Hall, starting Monday. They can be seen starting 10 a.m. Monday at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., between Adams and Court streets in Downtown Brooklyn. (Jay Street – Borough Hall subway stop on the A, C and F lines). The public information session is at 6 p.m. Monday. Expect the usual raucous crowd of union construction workers and project critics, who have almost come to blows in the past.

A few other things out there on the design, which may have gotten lost in what seemed to us to be a hasty release:

--How long would it take to build? Typically, Ellerbe Becket designs have taken 24 to 28 months to complete. Assume an early December ground breaking—Jay-Z does, and you would have grand opening in February 2012. One Nets' insider says the team is aiming for All-Star Break 2012, meaning mid-February. That would give everyone a little more time to make the switch.

--There has a lot of talk of how intimate the new design would make the Barclays Center feel, but in reality, Barclays Center would be about 30% larger than the IZOD Center. Square footage at the Barclays would be 675,000 square feet, compared to 465,000 at the IZOD. That is significantly smaller than both the original 850,000 square feet design and Prudential Center. Of course, a lot of that extra space would go into the 100 suites (of various sizes), down from the original 130…and hopefully additional concourse space. On the other hand, Barclays will not be built with hockey in mind, permitting a lot closer view of the court.

--Of the 100 luxury suites, there would be 16 Brownstone Suites (16 seats each), 67 Loft Suites (10 seats each), 11 Courtside Suites, four Club Suites and two Party Suites. The arena would also include 40 loge boxes, six clubs and restaurants run by Levy’s Brothers, which provides food service to most pro sports venues around the country. Among the restaurant spaces, there would be a huge restaurant/club on the second floor with chefs’ tables. Renderings of the suites included in the release don’t appear to be much different than those Gehry designed (with the help of Ellerbe Becket architects, it should be noted). We’re told that the Nets have been building new models of the various-sized suites at their multi-million dollar suite showroom on the 38th floor of the New York Times building opposite Port Authority.

--The arena would have, among other things, ADT Plaza; Cushman & Wakefield Theater; EmblemHealth Entrance; IZOD-Nets Team Store; MGM Grand & Foxwoods Bar; MetroPCS Pavilion and Jones Soda Shoppe. When the word came down a few months back that Haier, the Chinese electronics maker, had become a founding partner, sources said Haier would have a store inside the arena as well. There was no mention of the store or Haier in the press release. No idea how big the theatre would be or whether the Nets could steal the NBA Draft away from the Garden!

--A couple of things have survived the Frank Gehry design: the open street level view of the arena interior is one. You won’t be able to watch the game from Flatbush or Atlantic, but you might be able to read the scoreboard and watch replays from the sidewalks and street. (And if critics are correct about the traffic, you might be able to watch a whole game’s worth of scoreboard changes and highlights.) In addition, Nets' practices would be visible from Atlantic Avenue and the arena entrance. The team’s new practice facility would be integrated into Barclays Center (and would be called the "Barclays Center Practice Facility"—sorry, PNY, your rights end in two years). Team offices would be elsewhere in Brooklyn at least for a while.

--Among the things that haven’t survived the Gehry design is the integration of the arena and the surrounding apartment towers. Originally, they were supposed to have one architect, one foundation. Now at the very least, they will have two architects and multiple foundations. In addition, the great "Urban Room" Gehry designed to serve as a glassed-in entrance way to Atlantic Yards and the arena is gone. In its place an open space sheltered by a canopy cantilevered 30 feet above ground level. The 80-foot canopy is not permanent. The location is where Ratner wants to build a 34-story office building/hotel. It would have large base open to the public, essentially the replacement for Gehry's "Urban Room". Ratner has said he won’t even begin new planning on the tower without a signature tenant. None appears on the horizon.

--Ratner seems to be deliberately targeting younger, more "hip", more "hot" architects as he finds new firms to replace Gehry’s firm and associate firms, like Laurie Olin, the original landscape architect. SHoP was hired in June, around the time the first Ellerbe Becket design was hammered for looking like "an airplane hangar". There have been reports that City Planning Commission head Amanda Burden demanded something much different from the Ellerbe Becket design. Ratner supposedly went to David Childs, who was one of his architects on the huge MetroTech complex and the lead designer on Freedom Tower, and Childs recommended SHoP. Ratner has already replaced Olin with Field Operations, another "hip" young firm, most recently responsible for New York's newest icon, the Highline. Forest City officials have said they may announce the next set of architects, for the first apartment tower surrounding the arena, before year’s end. Gehry will still get credit as "master planner" for the project.

--A little noted design feature as described by Greg Pasquarelli, lead architect on the project for SHoP, in a conversation with "The building will change from day to night. Literally, the skin is responding to the program inside. It becomes more transparent when it needs to be, with lightness and form embedded in it. The skin [of the building] sits several feet away from the weather enclosure of the stadium. At night, when lit from inside, it will glow. In day, it switches, and the slots become the dark shadows... Usually, with arenas, you get this taught skin on the outside, but here it's punctures. I don't want to be cheesy and say it's like brownstones with their punctured windows, but it is."

--There was no leak this time to the New York Times or anyone else. Nor was there much of a warning. The renderings suddenly appeared on the Barclays Center website for all to see, accompanied by a press release.

Harris Walks the Walk…Down the Runway

Devin Harris strode the runway Thursday night at the Purple Event fashion show-fundraiser at New York's Sony Plaza Atrium. The Event is a fund-raiser for epilepsy research. Four couples participated, with Harris paired with model Kelly "Isabella" Falk. Also on the runway, Alan Faneca of the Jets and his wife. Faneca was diagnosed with epilepsy as a child.

Harris tweeted from the event, "gettin my red carpet on at The Purple Event for a good cause The Anita Kaufmann Foundation".

A Petrovic Returns

Marko Petrovic was two years old when his uncle Drazen died in a car crash on the German autobahn. His father raised him in the game and he was even featured four years ago in a TNT piece about the Nets Hall of Famer.

Now, Marko Petrovic is 18 and playing in Nevada at Findlay Prep, known for his ability to hone top flight talent for Division I schools. One of his teammates is Nick Johnson, who also had a famous uncle play the game and die young, Dennis Johnson.

Drazen’s nephew says he wants to be Marko, not Drazen, but he’s already a star in Croatia and the comparisons are unavoidable.

Yormark’s Cheerleader

Joe Favorito has a long history in sports public relations and marketing, at one point serving as the Knicks equivalent of Gary Sussman. He is also a big Brett Yormark fan and has used his website to laud the Net CEO’s efforts over the years, most recently the reversible jersey idea.

In New Jersey Newsroom, a website operated by a lot of former New Jersey reporters and editors, Favorito makes his case for the Nets CEO.

Even as the team continues to plan for its move out of the state to an arena in Brooklyn, the brand finds new ways almost on a daily basis to create news and buzz, add value to its partners and grow brand relevancy in the tri-state area.

The vision is led by CEO Brett Yormark and his staff, and executed by PR head Barry Baum.

Some of their ideas are innovative (the Nets were one of the first teams to create substantial green initiatives, tied to sponsors), some are controversial in their effectiveness (including a series of reversible jerseys as part of a season plan that could encourage more non-Nets colors in the arena than Nets jerseys), some are fun (senior dance teams, an endless list of fan promotions), some are trend-setting (the Nets sold the first practice jersey sponsorship this week), and some just make great brand sense (hosting job fairs in a down economy, developing partnerships with the Asian and Latin community and looking abroad for emerging sponsors like LG and Barclay's).

Favorito believes that critics miss the point about Yormark, that he is fighting an uphill battle in the New York metropolitan area and has done well. His question is that where would the Nets be without Yormark.

"There is no team in the tri-state area, or maybe even in professional sports, that gives a fan or a brand more news year-round than the Nets do. They continue to find ways to create an experience in and around their brand that is important to their constituents.

"So when a family or an individual is thinking of entertainment, or a brand is trying to find an affordable way to reach a particular demographic, the Nets brand is conspicuously present. It's a smart way to do business."

Final Note

Sometimes lately, it seems that the Nets aren’t a basketball team as much as a center of controversy, with various constituencies—legal, financial, corporate, architectural— staking out positions on their future. The positions are often theological, that is, uncompromising, almost divinely inspired.

October is likely to be a mess in this regard. There’ll be the State Court of Appeals hearings on October 14; secret negotiations on ownership changes that could go on all month—and perhaps even involve a secretive Russian; the preseason games at "The Rock" that will be more watched for their attendance figures than their boxscores; and of course, the discussions on financing the arena. Get ready for tutorials on what bond ratings firms do.

You have to hope when the 15 guys who wear the Nets uniform (itself a point of controversy!) start playing ball on the night of October 28, a lot of this will be either settled or within sight. They are the ones who have to play the games.

And, Finally...

For those who remember last week's Final Note about the lonely Nets fan in Barcelona, here he is: