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Brooklyn Hopes Players Will Move to Borough Along With The Franchise

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Devin Harris has long lived happily along the Hudson in New Jersey.  Most if not all the Nets live in the Garden State as well but the Daily News writes of Brooklynites' hopes that some of them, specifically Harris, will follow their team to the borough, much like the Dodgers did in the 1950's. (The article appeared only in the newspaper, not online.)

It's all part of the Nets' marketing push, to drive home Brooklyn's inevitability...and the historic linkage with the Dodgers. 

By Jay Mwamba

New York Daily News

It echoes back to the time of the Brooklyn Dodgers -- a historic and special era more than 50 years ago when professional athletes held court and lived in the borough.  Back then, for many Brooklynites and their fans, the players were superstars and neighbors.

A part of that nostalgic memory will be rekindled when the New Jersey Nets basketball team moves to the Barclays Center arena in downtown Brooklyn for the 2012-2013 NBA season.

With the neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Park Slope and Fort Greene in close proximity, there may be pro athletes in the borough again.

The excitement is a palpable in the Nets organization and the community as work proceeds briskly on the high-tech venue that will seat as many as 19,500 people.

Formed in 1967, the Nets --whose past starts have included Hall of Fame members Nate Archibald, Rick Barry and Julius Erving-- previously have made thier home on Long Island and Teaneck, NJ.

"This is a transformative move for the organization," says Nets CEO Brett Yormark.

"New Jersey has been a great place over the years [but] there're 2.5 million people in Brooklyn who've been underserved in sport and entertainment since Dodgers left."

That was in 1957, when the Dodgers relocated to Los Angeles, leaving behind a void in New York's most populous borough that will only be now filled by the Nets and a raft of other performers destined for the multi-purpose Barclays Center.

In addition to the Nets, the arena at Atlantic and Flatbush Aves. will host more than 200 events annually, including major concerts, professional boxing, professional tennis, big time collegiate sports and family show such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney On Ice.

However, the real icing on the cake for the area --home to some of the most vibrant communities in the city-- is the economic benefits the anticipated arrival of Devin Harris and his teammates will herald.

The Barclays Center is part of a 22-acre residential and commercial rel estate project dubbed the Atlantic Yards that's expected to generate more than $5 billion in new tax revenues over the next 30 years.

In addition to tax benefits, the project will create thousands of new jobs: upwards of 17,000 union construction jobs and as many as 8,000 permanent and as nearly 8,000 permanent jobs.

From borough realtors like Audrey Edwards to restaurant manager Jeremy Vrooman, whose Blue Ribbon Brooklyn on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope is walking distance from the rising Barclays Center, expectations are high.

"It's going to have a tremendous effect on the real estate value in the community," predicted Edwards, vice president and managing director and associate broker at the 138-year-old firm of Brown, Harris, Stevens.

"This continues to be the borough that people continue to move to."

With the lure of first-rate real estate options, from magnificent brownstones to stunning hi-rise condominiums in the neighborhoods around the Barclays Center, some Nets players may just find the urge to move closer to work simply irrestible.

At the Blue Ribbon, established in 2001, game and concert nights at the arena can't come soon enough.

"We're excited. Fifth Avenue is a pretty happening place for bars, restaurant after events at the Barclays Center.

"It's going to be great for everybody," said Pascale Felix, whose Haitian-themed Kombit Bar and Restaurant on Flatbush Ave, near St. Marks Place is three blocks from the arena site.

Felix, however, fears that some area landlords are awaiting the Nets with greed in their minds.

"Hopefully, landlords won't double the rent," he said.

"If they see you're making extra money, they'll raise the rent, so there's a benefit on one hand and on the other, it will cost you more."