Thursday, January 15, 2009

Is Newark dead? Devils owner wants to negotiate regarding Nets preseason games at the Prudential Center

After New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark stated that, contrary to a report from the day before, the team was not considering playing preseason games at the Prudential Center in Newark, a commenter on this blog yesterday asked: "Is Newark really dead as Yormark says or is this just part of a negotiating ploy to get a better deal?"

Well, in Day 3 of the saga, the Star-Ledger reported last night that New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek told the Nets "that he had every intention of making a proposal to host Nets preseason games at the Prudential Center and was surprised that the team abruptly stopped negotiations."

The dispute was apparently over money, with the Nets asking Vanderbeek's Devils to guarantee a gate count typical in the regular season, even though preseason games, as Vanderbeek wrote, "typically play to half the audience of a regular-season game."

Middle ground?

There must be some middle ground in this dispute over price. After all, the Nets, like other NBA teams (and probably hockey teams, too), routinely inflate their attendance.

And, more importantly, the Nets this season are giving tickets away. For free. The Nets need more fan revenue and fan support, and the Izod Center clearly is no longer "the perfect setting for us right now," as Yormark said six weeks ago. Vanderbeek (and the city of Newark) need to get more action in the new arena.

(A petition drive has begun by Nets fans who pledge to buy tickets if the team plays at The Rock.)

That fact that they seem to be negotiating via the Star-Ledger doesn't exactly suggest harmony. But it's in both sides' interest to work something out.

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