Skip to main content

Prokhorov in Brooklyn: the conquering hero, except to one columnist paying attention

Well, Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov came to Brooklyn Tuesday to look at the under-construction Barclays Center arena and pretty much conquered the fawning sports press, with one notable exception.

(Prokhorov with Bruce Ratner, in photo from the Nets' web site.)

Here are some of the headlines, which hint at the low level of actual news:
The NY1 piece is particularly egregious, since it's not "his" arena (he's junior partner to Bruce Ratner in operating a nominally state-owned facility), nor does he "foresee" so much as "aspire" or "b.s."

The transcript and the Brooklyn reference

In saturation coverage worthy of a presidential press conference, the Daily News and the Post even provided a transcript, complete with Prokhorov's second-language locutions, such as "And I am proud to have a partner like Bruce Ratner and we can do together a great miracle."

One reporter apparently asked him, "Mr. Proky, in your visits what do you think of Brooklyn?" (It's apparently possible that a reporter is unable to pronounce the name Prokhorov, just as the Nets organization has a policy of calling him Michael rather than Mikhail.)

His answer:
So I think I read the article in the Daily News that said that every 9-out-of-10 Brooklynites quite happy for the arena for the team moving. And I feel that Brooklyn deserves a professional team since the time the Dodgers left in 1957. And of course I know there is some kind of skeptical criticism, and of course it’s impossible to make happy just everyone, but I hope as soon as we start our season, because it’s not only basketball, it’s a great cultural events to tennis and another opportunity to make this like center, the heart of Brooklyn. I think even those who are skeptical now will join us. So we’ll do our best, because for us the spirit of community is very important.
Prokhorov was well-prepared to cite and then distort shaky evidence (real estate fluffer Jason Sheftell's alleged random interviews of ten people), invoke the Markowitzian cliche of the Dodgers, and echo Ratnerian rhetoric. 

As for whether "those who are skeptical," he should have been at the Community Board meeting that night on the arena liquor license.

D'Alessandro's take

Star-Ledger columnist Dave D'Alessandro, who produced the piquant detail that Nets' huckster-in-chief Brett Yormark claimed to have never heard of P.T. Barnum, wrote Mikhail Prokhorov, like the Nets, is a work in progress:
As everyone knows, there’s no better substitute for substantive dialogue than a photo op and some glib remarks while standing in front of a construction site...
But glib is what Prokhorov does well, yet if you’re looking for something substantial, keep looking. He never gives the impression that he is in control of the Nets franchise, as even his clich├ęs — “It is easy to have a playoff team, but it is very difficult to have a championship team, so we need to be very patient and go step by step” — are diametrically opposed to what his GM practices.
So it occurs to you: Prokhorov can’t speak of the future because he knows very little about the present. He threw some names out there (Gerald Wallace, Marshon Brooks) to signify that he’s been paying attention, but overall, he still sounds less engaged than the average towel boy.
It’s time to admit the obvious: We’re talking about an absentee owner here, as this guy never really had any intention of doing much more than writing checks.
What D'Alessandro didn't get to is this: whatever happens, Prokhorov has already won. Articles about him begin by describing him as owner of a basketball team, not a billionaire who got his big boost through questionable means.

Questions for Ratner

According to the transcript, this was Ratner's opening statement:
Thank you all for being here. You’re right now standing in the Grand Atrium. You’ll see how large and beautiful it is. And then you come and get this magnificent view of the bowl. It’s tight, there will be a lot of noise there, a lot of action. It’s gonna be the most incredible arena in America, and maybe the world. But I’m not only here to tell you about the arena, I’m here to tell you about a partnership.
It takes teamwork to do something like this. From the very beginning it’s teamwork, and Iust want to say that probably, along this big journey, one of the best things I ever did, if not the best thing, was partner up with Mikhail Prokhorov. It’s not only because of the economics, that, of course, is good. But it’s because Mikhail Prokhorov, and his group, have been wonderful partners. We’ve worked together with real teamwork, and everything that I’ve ever done in life that’s been successful is about good teamwork and partnership. And so, with that, I’d like to introduce to you to, probably, the best partner I’ve had in my life, in terms of teamwork, working together, Mikhail Prokhorov.
According to the transcript, Ratner was asked "about the timeline for finishing the arena." His answer:
We’re opening on September 28, that’s the magic date. We’re going to open, as you all know, with a Jay-Z concert. We’ll probably be pretty substantially completed about a month earlier, and work out bugs for about a month. We’re on time and on schedule, and it should be done with no problem.
(Emphasis added)

The Times, however, erroneously reported:
But Bruce C. Ratner, the developer who sold Prokhorov 80 percent of the team and 45 percent of the arena, said that construction should be completed a month ahead of schedule, leading to a Sept. 28 opening with a Jay-Z concert.
More than that, the arena "substantial completion" date has been steadily nudged back--not that sports reporters would notice--and the schedule for the Carlton Avenue Bridge, an arena "opening condition," is so tight, the bridge could open without paving.

No AYR at the press conference

Why wasn't I there? I was told it was for "accredited media" only, so they wouldn't let me in.

Then again, Prokhorov, according to the boosterish NetsDaily blogger "Net Income," aka Bob Windrem, "appreciates bloggers in both sports and politics" and was welcomed to Prokhorov's luxury box. It apparently depends on the bloggers.

Prokhorov on video (via NJ.com)



The Brooklyn Paper angle

The last question of the press conference was this:
You planning to buy a place in Brooklyn? 
You know it’s just a great question for me, because the time being a rich Russian driving up the prices, so it’s not the best time to buy.
So the Brooklyn Paper, "accredited media," found an angle in Prokhorov isn’t looking for a Brooklyn pied-a-terre

The article described Prokhorov as "self-made," provoking my comment:
I don't think Prokhorov qualifies as "self-made." Sure, he's shown initiative and savvy, but oligarchs by definition have a lot of help. That's why they're oligarchs.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…