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May 16, 2008

Nets are selling the luxury side of their dream arena

Bergen Record
by John Brennan

The New Jersey Nets, who vow to move to Brooklyn in two years, kicked off a critical phase of that effort Thursday with the opening of a sales center in midtown Manhattan.

"We've been saying that Brooklyn has been real for years, and it is real, but this truly is another validation for us," Chief Executive Officer Brett Yormark said during a media tour of the sales office, which includes a 500-square-foot replica of one of the 130 luxury suites at the proposed $950 million Barclays Center.

NoLandGrab: Pinch me! Brooklyn is real!

"We've got hot prospects that we'll be talking to over the next 30 to 60 days, who have been waiting to be able to come in and walk through a suite," said Yormark, who returned to the Nets after gaining a national reputation for his sponsorship and marketing success at NASCAR. "We've got people what I call 'teed up and ready to go,' and [Thursday's events for corporate leaders] could be a closer for them."

Given the current economy, Nets owners may need every bit of Yormark's sales talents to entice major corporations to shell out an average of $300,000 a year for the suites for terms of five to 10 years. Those sales would serve as part of the collateral for the considerable construction loans the Nets will need to break ground by the end of the year.

The Nets, who expect to obtain one-third or more of the building costs from New York City and New York State subsidies, also announced "founding partner" sponsorships worth $100 million this week. Foxwoods Resort Casino, Anheuser-Busch, and Cushman and Wakefield are among those core partners.

NLG: Foxwoods and Anheuser, two more "Brooklyn" companies?

The Nets lose an estimated $40 million annually at the Izod Center, whose design does not feature modern suites or lucrative "club seats" that can fetch hundreds of dollars per ticket for each game. But Yormark reiterated the franchise's insistence that a move to the Prudential Center is not in the cards, either short-term or long-term.

"We're at the Izod Center and committed to the Izod Center, and from the Izod Center we go to the Barclays Center," Yormark said. "There are no other options for us, and we will consider no other options."

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NLG: Alas, poor Yormark. He and his Nets and Forest City Ratner cronies doth protest too much, we thinks, when it comes to the unrelenting efforts to dispel the inconvenient Nets-to-Newark rumors.

Posted by eric at May 16, 2008 9:31 AM