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November 29, 2004

Owner neglecting Nets, say critics

The New York Daily News:

Developer Bruce Ratner did not pay to keep top-shelf talent like Kenyon Martin and Kerry Kittles on the NBA squad he owns, but he spent big bucks this year to push his real estate projects, critics charged.

Forest City Ratner companies paid five lobbyist firms a total of $200,000 for the first six months of this year, according to a document from the New York state online lobbyist registration system. One firm, Geto & Demilly, spent an additional $31,000 in printing expenses.

"This is just another example of how Ratner bought the [New Jersey Nets] to grease the skids for the [arena] project, not to be a successful basketball team owner," said Scott Turner of Fans for Fair Play, an anti-arena group.

Forest City Ratner VP Bruce Bender and lobbying firm Geto & Demilly claim that there was nothing out of the ordinary. For an interesting peek at what lobbyist consider to be ordinary see "NYPIRG: Big Apple's Big Spenders," November 28.

Detractors point to a connection between money spent on lobbying Community Boards and the Community Board leadership's involvement in talks with the developer. CB6 District Manager denies any effect of lobbying attempts.

Lately, even NJ Nets Center has been criticizing Ratner for putting his real estate investment before his sports team investment.

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Posted by lumi at November 29, 2004 7:32 AM