Thursday, October 22, 2009

At second pre-season game at The Rock in Newark, Nets attendance exceeds regular-season average--and an interim move grows more likely

Well, the attendance at the second and final Nets exhibition game at the Prudential Center in Newark, aka The Rock, was almost certainly padded (as it was at the first game October 13), but at least those receiving freebies and discounts actually showed up, unlike those un-enticed to the Izod Center.

So the attendance was an announced 15,721, up some 3000 from more than last week, and more than the average (a padded 15,147) for the Nets last season.

And now, reports the Star-Ledger's Dave D'Alessandro, team brass are considering a move to The Rock as an interim measure, a move that would fulfill Newark Mayor Cory Booker's hopes:
The Nets are considering playing their regular season home games at the Prudential Center in Newark while a new arena is being built for them in Brooklyn, several team officials said last night.

After drawing large crowds for two preseason games in Newark -- including nearly 16,000 last night for a game against the New York Knicks -- the Nets are warming to the idea of spending a few years at the Prudential Center as long as they can get out of their lease at the Meadowlands without having to pay an $8 million penalty.
1.5 years in Newark?

The team couldn't move this year, and the Brooklyn arena--at least according to Forest City Ratner--is supposed to open in the middle of the 2011-12 season, so a best-case scenario, from the perspective of Brooklyn move boosters, would be 1.5 years in Newark: 2010-11 and half of the next season.

I still think the best-case scenario is much more likely a later 2012 opening in Brooklyn, given the various delays that have plagued the project. That would mean two full seasons in Newark should the interim plan proceed.

And, of course, we don't know whether the Brooklyn arena will be built.

Prokhorov's people watching

The team's prospective new owner--or at least his people--were taking notice,

From The Record's Al Iannazzone, in his In the 'Zzone:
Don’t know if MSG showed it, but across from the Nets’ bench was a contingent of prospective owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s reps and advisors.

The Russian billionaire wasn’t here, but members of the Onexim Group were and from what we heard they were impressed with the Prudential Center itself, went outside and saw a line of people waiting for tickets and liked the in-game entertainment. There were 15,721 fans here and it was a late arriving crowd. President Barack Obama was in the area, leading to some snarled traffic.
From D'Alessandro:
Three of the oligarch’s main people got a tour of the Prudential Center before the game, and then took their seats courtside. They were Onexim CEO Dmitry Razumov, deputy CEO Christophe Charlier and attorney Todd Schafer. Razumov chatted at length with Devils boss Lou Lamoriello at halftime.

Mikki [Prokhorov], whose whereabouts were unknown, had dined with Ratner, Yormark and Thorn in Manhattan Tuesday night.

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