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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #19

A week from Saturday is August 27 and a year from August 27 is supposed to be the date the Barclays Center is completed. A month later is opening night.  So we take a break from the Kris & Kim news to take a look at a number issues that arose this week on the arena, starting with the Islanders. There's also news about tight quarters at the arena's edge, staff hiring, parking.

Beyond Barclays, we write about how much insurance will cost for players wanting to don European uniforms, and wretched excess and the Nets. It's getting more difficult to find good stuff as the lockout enters its third month next week.

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, and of course, the lockout. We will rely on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who slip interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs, our own reporting and analysis.

Islanders Coming?

Darren Rovell's Thursday night scoop that Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark had been seen at NHL offices in Midtown Manhattan renewed interest in the Islanders moving 22 miles to the west. As Katie Strang of Newsday noted, "That possibility is now looking more realistic."

We've already discussed why Barclays makes sense for the Islanders.  How does it make sense for the Nets?  In the simplest terms, it's always better when your boss is making money and in the case of the Nets and Barclays, the same people own both.  So if the Islanders move in with the Nets, Barclays Center makes more money and since Barclays Center is Ratner and Prokhorov, it's good for the Nets. Even the possibility of the "Brooklyn Islanders" is likely to help with lagging suite sales (slowed because of the lockout, among other things) and sponsorships.  Barcalys may have signed Coca Cola recently, but that was a replacement deal. Coke came in, Jones Soda went out. The arena is still looking for big automotive, aviation and computer sponsors.

The meeting was described as "very general and conceptual in nature" by the Newsday reporter.  One possibility: the Nets have in the past proposed preseason dates for the Islanders in the new arena.  With the Islander lease up in 2015, dates in Brooklyn would give the NHL a good look at how the arena could handle professional hockey.  Remember, the Nets tried out Prudential Center in 2009-10 before moving in a year later so there is a precedent.

The other possibilities look more and more problematic. The Islander owner will have to find private financing for a new arena in Nassau, the voters having rejected a $400 million public bond issue two weeks ago. The Willets Point site in Queens is fraught with eminent domain concerns and the proposed Suffolk County arena is likely to be caught up in the same public financing concerns that killed the deal in Nassau.  Moving is not something the NHL or Wang wants.  Leagues don't give up playing in the biggest market in the US for a place in Quebec City, which has a metropolitan population of 750,000.

As for the lease, as Nets fans know, they can be bought out particularly when the public authority that controls it (NJSEA or Nassau County) wants to renovate the older structure; the professional sports team (Nets or Islanders) want to move and there's someone rich enough and motivated enough (Mikhail Prokhorov) to buy it out.

Short of that, if the Nets want to make the arena more appealing, they may want to do a few things, starting with a new fare arrangement at the Transit Connection beneath Barclays.  As of now, an LIRR passenger has to pay a $2.25 subway fare to move from the LIRR Atlantic Terminal via an underground passageway to Barclays or walk about a fifth of a mile on the street.  There's no fare pass-through. Some variation of the NetroCard plan could help.  That would require MTA cooperation.The alternative is to put thousands of Islander fans up on local streets on game nights.

Sidewalk Woes?

Speaking of congestion possibilities at the Barclays Center, the new Atlantic Yards Watch website does a deep dive into the arena site plan to reveal some of the sidewalks around the arena will be tight.  First, 150 bollards, those big stone monoliths that protect against runaway cars (or terrorists) will be placed along the sidewalks.  Then, expect by the time the arena opens, new construction: Ratner's planned 34-story $100 million apartment building at the southeast corner of the arena.  That too will limit what AYW calls "the effective width" of sidewalks. Along one stretch of Atlantic Avenue, the group suggests, the sidewalk will only be 5.5' wide. Imagine if you will being caught on that stretch of sidewalk following a close Nets-Knicks (or Islanders-Rangers) game. 

And what's this? An upstate New York company, More Park System, is claiming its prefab parking solution will soon be used by the "Brooklyn Nets". It's a a "bump-up parking deck," which is made of removable pre-cast concrete platforms secured by galvanized steel beams that can be assembled in a few weeks. 

Hiring begins?

As part of Ratner's agreement with local community, the group BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development) has begun advertising for a training program that would prepare locals for jobs at the arena and in nearby businesses.  Ratner funds BUILD which in turn is running the training program.

According to a notice sent out by the group...

With the Barclay’s Arena set to open next year, there will be a number of employment opportunities in the retail and hospitality industries, both in, and around, the Arena. Currently, we are working with a number of retailers around the Arena and arelooking forward to providing access to potential employment opportunities in thesesectors for high-energy individuals with positive attitudes.

You can gain a competitive advantage by participating in our Retail and Hospitality Training Program that begins September 6, 2011. This will be a competitive process with space limited to 25 individuals in each session. We are looking to place individuals that are serious and have a desire to work in and around a World Class Arena.

The group's efforts was first reported by Atlantic Yards Report.

Overseas Expenses

With Deron Williams and Jordan Farmar overseas and Jordan Williams considering it, what is the big expenditure they're going to have to make before getting on the plane bound for Turkey or Israel or wherever? Insurance. Deron Williams says he was able to secure it for his run with Besiktas. But what about others? Not so easy.

Brian Heidelberger, A lawyer who writes for Sports Business Journal says depending on the value of a player's contract, insurance to cover that career-ending injury can get quite expensive. 

A player needs to secure disability insurance. Both temporary (for short-term injury) and permanent (for career-ending injury) disability policies are available. While a permanent policy is three to five times cheaper than a temporary one, it’s more likely that a player will suffer a short-term injury, making a temporary policy the first stop. That said, a temporary policy will cover only the value of a player’s current NBA contract, so certain players may want to consider both temporary and permanent insurance. Temporary policies cost $50,000 to $100,000 to cover short-term play in the FIBA World Championships, to well over $1 million to cover an entire season. Foreign teams will likely deduct the cost of insurance from the value of a player’s overall deal.

While Deron Williams can afford to pay that, could Jordan Williams?

Can anyone say Aflac?

Wretched Excess Week

There have been two events this week that have gotten attention for wretched excess in the face of national anxiety and rising poverty...and both involved the Nets. 

The first, of course, is the wedding of Kris and Kim. Courtney Hazlett of MSNBC wrote, "The Saturday nuptials might just be the most tone deaf occasion I can think of, past and present.When Somalia is in the midst of horrific famine, how exactly can Mrs. Humphries-to-be justify sending her guest list (rumored to number almost 1,000) wedding invitations so ornate, they arrived in custom-made boxes, embellished with black hematite crystals?"  Hazlett pointed out that if the Humphries-Kardashians want to rival Prince William and Prince Katherine, they might want to do what the royals did: "set up a charitable foundation in lieu of gifts."

The other example, less well known than the K&K nuptials (what isn't?), was news of the Jay-Z - Kanye West "Watch the Throne" launch party in Miami. The Nets minority owner and creative consultant laid out more than $250,000 on Armand de Brignac champagne before leaving a $50,000 tip for his lucky table staff. "After several rounds of reg bottles of ace of spade, Jay-Z ordered the 15 liter BOSS 100k," tweeted a party promoter on the night. RadarOnline reports that Jay-Z was trying to one-up Mark Cuban's party for the world champion Dallas Mavericks.  "Jay knew that Mark Cuban spent over $100,000 after the Mav’s won the championship a few months ago, and he wasn’t about to be upstaged," an insider told RadarOnline.

Final Note

We go off on vacation next week, hoping to post from distant shores and maybe get a drink with Don Nelson if we're lucky. So we may have an off-season report next week or we may not.  Sort of like the CBA talks.