Sunday, November 02, 2008

Plain Dealer: 2012-13 is more likely Brooklyn arena scenario (if it even opens)

A Cleveland Plain Dealer article headlined Bad news for Brooklyn summarizes the roadblocks facing the planned Atlantic Yards arena:

1) Delays: The $1 billion Frank Gehry-designed Brooklyn project, which once promised to be opened by late 2009, now may not be ready until the 2012-13 season, a full two seasons after James' free agency. But, in reality, there's a chance it may never open at all.

Actually, 2009 was the official date when the project was approved in 2006. When the project was announced in 2003, the opening date was promised to be 2006. But it's worth pointing out that the newspaper at least chose 2012, not 2011, as a target for the opening date. Forest City Ratner still says 2011; I think 2012 is a more realistic best-case scenario.

2) The need to renew the Barclays Center naming rights deal by the end of the month: Barclays recently said it is still supporting the project but here's two things you don't want to be doing these days if you are a real estate developer: attempting to get new financing or re-negotiating terms with an investment bank.

I have speculated that, at the least, Barclays will aim for a better deal.

3) Bruce Ratner's apparent attempt to sell the team, or parts of the team. Still, the head of the NBA is confident: Before last Tuesday's Cavs opener in Boston, NBA Commissioner David Stern said he had been assured all the financial and judicial issues would be settled and the Nets would be in Brooklyn "at some point."

In other words, it's still all in flux. But Cleveland superstar LeBron James, a friend of Nets part-owner Jay-Z, becomes a free agent in 2010, which means a new arena in Brooklyn likely wouldn't be available for at least two seasons.

Then again, there is a new arena in Newark.

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