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Are we talking arena 2012? Four-year deal at Izod Center offers hint

Just days after definitive evidence surfaced that Bruce Ratner now considers mid-2011 a best-case scenario for the opening of the Atlantic Yards arena came a hint that everything might be pushed back one more year.

Credit NoLandGrab for noticing a Newark Star-Ledger report that Vonage Holdings will pay more than $1 million in a four-year deal to put its name on the concourse of the Izod Center. That four-year stretch would end before the 2012-13 season.

Of course, deals can be broken, especially ones that are relatively puny compared to the $400 million Barclays Center naming rights deal. Still, it's notable that the press release from the Nets called it simply a "multi-year deal" but the Star-Ledger pinned it down to four years.

Big commitment?

The press release contains this happy talk from Brett Yormark, president and CEO of Nets Sports and Entertainment: “The commitment of Vonage demonstrates the significant level of excitement in the marketplace about the IZOD CENTER and once again fortifies the viability of the venue.”

By contrast, the Star-Ledger reported:
Vonage declined to confirm the value of the sponsorship deal, but a spokesman, Charles Sahner, called the dollar figure a "minor" part of its marketing budget.

The deal is "more economical" than Vonage's sponsorship of the Nets, which recently came to an end, Sahner said.

Still, Yormark has to think positive if he has to sell the aging Izod Center for four more years while maintaining interest in Brooklyn 2011/12 and--if some reports are to be believed--considering the possibilities of Newark's one-year-old Prudential Center.