Skip to main content

Why did the Nets fail to take hold in New Jersey? A host of reasons, including a late move to the 'burbs (and maybe one more: the media landscape)

An interesting article in The Record today, headlined Game over for N.J. Nets, but who'll miss them?, explores why the New Jersey Nets never quite took hold in New Jersey. An excerpt:
“People in New Jersey didn’t identify the Nets with New Jersey,” said [former Nets president Jon] Spoelstra, now a sports-marketing consultant. “It’s not like San Antonio, Utah, or Sacramento. I think those fans have gotten really wrapped up in their teams to where they become part of their lifestyle.”
[Michael] Rowe, a former New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority official who succeeded Spoelstra in 1995, said the location of the team’s Meadowlands base also played a role.
“The Nets were one of the last teams to move to arenas that were out in the suburbs,” said Rowe, president of the Cranbury-based sports management firm Positive Impact. “Eventually, arenas started moving back downtown because it was found that the after-work crowd, the steak-and-beer business communities, the mass-transit people, would support a team. And you didn’t have that here, so the Nets didn’t seem to get adopted by enough people in their home market. New Jersey has more than 500 medium and small towns, to where there was never a town even big enough to host a parade.”
Both also pointed to the large shadow cast by the New York Knicks, just across the river.
The article also references the lack of a consistently good team.

The authors miss one significant reason, I believe: the suburban nature of the Meadowlands arena--the home during most years in New Jersey, until the interim move to Newark--and the suburban nature of the state means that there was relatively little coverage from the New York City media.

With New York City television stations covering the Brooklyn Nets, as well as the sports-heavy tabloids New York Post and and New York Daily News, the relocated team will reap much free publicity.

And in the Star-Ledger

Also see Dave D'Alessandro's column in today's Star-Ledger, headlined Nets are leaving a place that never really felt like home:
“There was never really a lasting identity,” added Buck Williams, the greatest player in franchise history until [Jason] Kidd showed up in 2001. “No matter how good the intentions, execution was a problem. It was hard to compete for attention because of the transportation issue — fans had to drive through rush-hour traffic on the Turnpike to get here, because you’re not in a city.”
Indeed, market circumstances were an issue. But in this unforgiving business, it was also a Murphy’s Law franchise, and with every success there was always another detour, another misstep, or another tragedy around the corner.
D'Alessandro on Atlantic Yards:
And in the coup de grace of public manipulation — economic, emotional or otherwise — a real estate developer named Bruce Ratner bought the team in 2004 for the sole purpose of using it to justify the seizure of land via public domain, and making the Nets’ new arena the centerpiece of a $5 billion complex in Brooklyn that he will build mostly with taxpayer money.
This process took more than eight years from conception to groundbreaking, and every step of the way, you got the impression that the Nets — and anyone who actually cared about them — were watching the clock, as Ratner stripped the team of assets and sold managing interest to an oligarch, Mikhail Prokhorov.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…