Reports: Nets' sale almost complete
Are the Nets Brooklyn-bound? Looks like it.
The current owners of the NBA franchise have told real estate developer Bruce Ratner that they intend to sell the team to his investors' group for about $300 million, according to Bloomberg News.
In December, the Nets and the Yankees announced a preliminary agreement to end their YankeesNets partnership. That gave Nets owners Lewis Katz and Ray Chambers the green light to sell the team.
Meanwhile, a group headed by New Jersey developer Charles Kushner is still involved in the talks. Kushner's group, which includes U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., has bid $267.5 million. That group would keep the Nets at the Continental Airlines Arena at the Meadowlands sports complex in East Rutherford.
"We have to continue to pore over the information to see if a revised bid is warranted," Kushner group spokesman Michael Turner said Thursday.
Kushner representatives met Tuesday with the Meadowlands operators, the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, to discuss renovating the arena, authority spokesman Jim DeBosh said.
The authority has had no contact with Ratner, he said.
Ratner has said he plans to move the team from the Meadowlands sports complex to Brooklyn, where he would build a new arena.
Newsday is also reporting that an announcement is imminent.
When asked by ESPN.com on Thursday if a sale was imminent, both NBA commissioner David Stern and Phoenix Suns managing partner Jerry Colangelo, who is also chairman of the NBA board of governors, declined comment.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff were informed that Ratner's group, which includes rapper Jay-Z, is getting the team, one of the people familiar with the negotiations told Bloomberg.
"There are a million details that have to be worked out with the NBA," a source told Newsday on Wednesday. "We're close, but it isn't going to be done tomorrow [Thursday], unless there's a small miracle."
The proposed Brooklyn Arena and Brooklyn Atlantic Yards are a combined residential, retail and commercial space with 7.7 million square feet of space. The arena would seat 19,000 for basketball, and include 4,500 units of residential housing and 2.1 million square feet of commercial office space.
Under the plan, development of the arena would begin this year. The completion of the project would be in time for the 2006-2007 NBA season; the team's lease in New Jersey expires in 2006.
The Brooklyn arena would be located at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues in downtown Brooklyn, near a major Long Island Rail Road terminal.
The ambitious proposal has its local opposition. Patti Hagan, leader of the Prospect Heights Action Coalition, a group formed to combat the plan, told Newsday: "He's got a huge fight on his hands, because we are not going away."
Ratner has said the project "will be almost exclusively privately financed" but officials have said some tax revenue could be pumped into the project.
The Nets have advanced to the NBA Finals in the past two seasons, but the team is losing tens of millions of dollars a year, according to Newsday.
The Nets are in first place in the Atlantic Division with a 21-16 record after Thursday night's 86-83 loss at Milwaukee. In their home victory over the Wizards on Wednesday, the Nets drew just 9,778 fans.
In November, Ratner initially bid $275 million for the team, the highest of four suitors.
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