Reports: New Jersey won't subsidize deal to buy Nets, Devils

Updated: August 26, 2003, 8:32 AM ET

TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey won't provide U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine and real estate developer Charles Kushner with at least $100 million in subsidies to help them buy the Nets and keep the team in the state, according to published reports Tuesday.

Former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli, brokering the deal for Corzine and Kushner, said they need the help to compete with two other investor groups who want to move the NBA team to New York, the Star-Ledger of Newark, Asbury Park Press of Neptune and The Record of Bergen County reported.

The partners' group requested the money during a conference call Friday with officials from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

One potential buyer is New York developer Bruce Ratner, who would want to move the team to a new arena in Brooklyn. The other is New York Islanders owner Charles Wang, who has intensified negotiations with Nassau County for a new arena.

George Zoffinger, chief executive officer of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, would neither confirm nor deny that the funding request had been made. However, he said the authority -- which operates the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, the current home for the Nets and the New Jersey Devils of the NHL -- wouldn't run a deficit to help underwrite the teams' operations.

"We have worked very hard to take the sports authority out of public subsidy and we have no intention, for anybody, to reverse that direction," Zoffinger told the Star-Ledger.

For the first time in eight years, the authority won't receive a subsidy from the state legislature this year and instead may turn a small profit.

The newspapers reported that the partners sought the help because they are wary of the financial problems facing the team. The Nets, who played in the NBA Finals the past two seasons, haven't made money and are expected to operate at a loss this year because of a rising payroll.

The Nets and Devils are both owned by the YankeeNets sports conglomerate, which has been working with local and state officials to have a new arena built in Newark.

"I do want to save (the Nets and Devils) in New Jersey," Zoffinger told the Asbury Park Press. "I want them to stay in New Jersey. But if New York and Long Island want to put together big, subsidized packages, we're not going to compete."

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

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