Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thought experiment: what if Prokohorov had been the owner of the Nets in 2003?

What if Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who, in a deal announced today would own 80% of the Nets, 45% of the arena, and have an option on 20% of the rest of the Atlantic Yards project, had been majority owner of the Nets in December 2003 when AY was announced?

What if Prokhorov and Ratner had been partners?

Brooklyn sport?

Could Ratner have said, "This started with basketball, a Brooklyn sport," as he said at the time? Could have continued to say, as he did upon the acquisition of Yi Jianlian, that “It’s 100 percent about basketball."

State support

Would the state's effort to pursue eminent domain for a "civic project" and "land use improvement project" including a (nominally) publicly owned state-of-the-art arena have run into roadblocks?

NLG wonders about using eminent domain to the "primary benefit" of Russia's richest man. Even if, as the state would argue, the project is primarily a benefit to the public, more people, and elected officials might get queasy.

A state legislator in New Jersey, Bill Pascrell, is alarmed, according to Politicker NJ:
Pascrell says that taxpayers would be "directly subsidizing the profits and business risks of this foreign corporation, whose investment will be reportedly smaller then the public's, instead of benefiting the taxpaying public.

"Especially during these tough economic times, this is, at best, a questionable use of taxpayer money and it is a question that should be explored," said Pascrell.


Pascrell pegs the public investment in Atlantic Yards at more than $2 billion. That figure, of course, is not that of the Empire State Development Corporation, and can be debated.

But the point remains. The picture would have changed had Prokhorov been on the scene.

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