Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Nets to Newark? Suites offer more reasons to move

Last week, I cited a Crain's Insider report that quoted an insider--from Forest City Ratner?--who suggested that the soon-to-open Prudential Center in Newark, more accessible than the Nets' current home in the Meadowlands, would make a good interim arena as they wait for the Brooklyn arena to be built.

The arena, built for the New Jersey Devils but with room for more tenants, is near a transit hub, academic institutions, and entertainment destinations.

But another reason went unmentioned. The new arena will have much more premium seating--82 suites, according to an article in the Feb. 19-25 Sports Business Journal. By contrast, the relatively antiquated Continental Airlines Arena has only 29 suites.

Suites = revenue$

The Brooklyn arena would have 172 suites, and Forest City Ratner projects that revenue would start at $38 million a year. A stint at the Prudential Center could get them halfway there--and better.

According to Sports Business Journal, for the Devils team, 56 12-seat suites are priced at $225,000 annually, 20 18-seat suites are priced up to $275,000 annually, and four bunker suites are priced at $350,000 annually. That adds up to $19.5 million a year, not counting two party suites available on a nightly basis.

For the Nets, the suites might be sold for even more--and suite revenues would soar compared to current levels.

And what if they move?

The Sports Business Journal article noted that building operator Anschutz Entertainment Group could help the Prudential Center "increase its event load from 200 to 250 shows annually," but to do that, more sports tenants would be needed.

One possible tenant is Seton Hall University men's basketball. The Nets went unmentioned, but the 41 home games, plus preseason and playoff games, would seem to be a natural fit.

Should the Nets move to Newark on an interim basis--remember, the Brooklyn move has been pushed back to 2010 at the earliest--they might recoup some losses and build a new fan base.

However, beyond public promises and contractual requirements, there'd still be another reason for the Nets to move to Brooklyn. Remember, the Brooklyn arena (aka Barclays Center) would have twice the number of suites as its rival in Newark.

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