Reports: Corzine part of group interested in buying Nets

Updated: August 19, 2003, 7:02 PM ET

TRENTON, N.J. -- Sen. Jon Corzine and real estate developer Charles Kushner are involved in discussions to buy the New Jersey Nets in an effort to prevent the NBA team from moving to New York.

Corzine and Kushner have been talking to current Nets owners and reviewing the team's financial records and considering a proposal, sources familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

The two could present a bid as early as next week, sources in New York and New Jersey involved with the negotiations told The New York Times for Tuesday's editions.

Corzine, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Kushner, a Democratic political contributor, are the leaders in a potential partnership forged by former Sen. Robert Torricelli, The Star-Ledger of Newark and The Record of Bergen County reported Tuesday. Torricelli has been seeking investors to keep the team from leaving New Jersey, sources, including a board member of the YankeeNets holding company, told the newspaper.

The New York Yankees and the Nets are two major assets of YankeeNets, which could fold if the Nets are sold. YankeeNets also owns the NHL's New Jersey Devils.

Corzine served as chairman of Goldman Sachs & Co. -- the Wall Street firm where he made his fortune -- before using more than $60 million of his own money to win a Senate seat in 2000.

Spokesman Darius Gore said the senator was on vacation and unavailable for comment. Howard Rubenstein, the spokesman for Kushner and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, declined to comment.

Torricelli did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

It is unclear whether Corzine and Kushner would push to keep the Nets and the Devils at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, where they now play, or try to revive a stalled plan for a new arena in Newark.

Others who have expressed interest in buying the Nets include New York developer Bruce Ratner, who would move the team to a new arena in Brooklyn, and New York Islanders owner Charles Wang, who has intensified negotiations with Nassau County, N.Y., for a new arena.

Gov. James E. McGreevey is pushing to keep the teams in New Jersey, either at a redeveloped arena at the Meadowlands or in a new sports complex in Newark.

"We are working cooperatively with the YankeeNets organization to provide two different opportunities, in Newark as well as the Meadowlands," McGreevey said during an appearance in Newark.

The state is prepared to help team owners, but not prepared for a major investment of state money, McGreevey said.

"We simply don't have the money," he said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index