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July 25, 2009

Ratner Trying to Find Investors for the Nets

Here is additional coverage of Bruce Ratner's attempts, first revealed yesterday, to get out from under his cash flow problems (a loss of $35 million in the past year alone) with the New Jersey Nets.

The Plain Dealer - Forest City talking to would-be investors in the New Jersey Nets
By Michelle Jarboe

Stories in the Newark Star-Ledger and the New York Post indicate that Forest City Ratner, the New York arm of Forest City Enterprises of Cleveland, is considering selling a stake in the New Jersey Nets basketball team.

A spokesman here in Cleveland says Forest City is not trying to divest itself of the team -- but the company has talked to from potential investors in the franchise. Forest City owns a 22 percent stake in the Nets and is the managing member of the investor group backing the team.

"At the moment we fully intend to continue to be an owner of the Nets basketball team," spokesman Jeff Linton said. "This is not our effort to sell the team."

The Nets are pivotal to Forest City's much-delayed and controversial Atlantic Yards project, a planned development that includes a basketball area named the Barclays Center. But the money-losing team is toting a heavy debt load. According to the Star-Ledger's report, more than 20 of the team's business employees have been laid off since September, and four members of the team's coaching staff took sizable pay cuts last week.

The Star-Ledger - Newark mayor Cory Booker not surprised by reports that NJ Nets are for sale
By Steve Politi

Newark mayor Cory Booker wasn't the least bit surprised at reports that the Nets are for sale -- he predicted that would happen months ago. What did surprise and disappoint him was hearing that the team was only looking at potential investors interested in moving it to Brooklyn.

"I have said from the beginning of this that the endeavor in Brooklyn is under a lot of challenges now, and I've said for months that the team is going to go up for sale," Booker said Friday at a musical festival in Newark.

"I'm discouraged a little bit that they're saying they're only going to sell to people who are going to stay in Brooklyn, but the reality is, we're going to do everything we possibly can to make sure that team stays in New Jersey. We need the revenue, we need the business opportunities. It really can become an economic engine for our state at a time when we need it."

Booker has said that he was putting together a team of investors who could purchase the Nets and move them to the Prudential Center in Newark, but he has not had direct talks with team owner Bruce Ratner.

ESPN - Friday Bullets

Nets owner Bruce Ratner -- now accepting investors. Dave D'Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger says that if and when a suitor legitimately emerges, the team is likely Brooklyn-bound: "So far, nobody's buying. But according to numerous officials throughout the organization, Ratner may soon find someone to help alleviate the team's crushing debt load and facilitate the construction of the Atlantic Yards project, and the candidates range from the former CEO of Yahoo to a billionaire industrialist from Russia -- each of whom would still move the team from New Jersey."

Canadian Press - Nets owner Bruce Ratner looking for investors
By Tom Canavan

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner has been getting feelers from individuals interested in buying a piece of the struggling NBA team that hopes to move to Brooklyn in 2011.

"We have received interest from potential investors in the team," Nets chief executive Brett Yormark said in a statement the team sent on Friday. "That interest is growing as it is clear that we are moving to Brooklyn. Our ownership group is as committed as ever to the success of the Nets and to the Barclays Center."

A real estate developer who heads Forest City Ratner, Ratner bought the Nets in 2004. The team has seen its attendance drop the past two years as it missed the playoffs.

...

Ratner must start construction of the arena by the end of 2009 to qualify for tax-exempt bonds. The Nets have maintained that they will break ground before the deadline and move into the new arena for the 2011-12 season.

The arena is part of a project known as Atlantic Yards, where more than a dozen skyscrapers are planned on a 22-acre site. The project has been stalled by financing problems in a crippled real estate market, high-priced designs and lawsuits by residents opposing the use of some condemned property to build the arena. New York's top appeals court has agreed to hear a challenge to the state's use of eminent domain to obtain all the land for the project.

Ratner recently released Frank Gehry from designing the arena and all the other buildings in the project.

Posted by steve at July 25, 2009 7:59 AM