September 26, 2011
In 2012, the New Jersey Nets' new home, the Barclays Center, will open in Brooklyn. It'll inaugurate a new era for the franchise, one in which they can seriously entertain becoming a big-market team with the financial foundation to weather any sustained period of poor performance.
This move has been known about for several years -- it's believed to be one of the main reasons Mikhail Prokhorov was interested in buying the team in 2009. (The Brooklyn connection was also certainly the reason that Jay-Z became a part-owner.) The question for some time now, though, has been whether or not the New Jersey franchise would officially become a Brooklyn team with the Nets name intact. On Monday, they got ready to announce that they would in fact become the Brooklyn Nets. From Erin Durkin for the New York Daily News (via TBJ):
The Barclays Center, which is rapidly rising at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves., is set to officially open on Sept. 28, 2012, with the first concert and will have three weeks of special events before the basketball season starts.
They'll also make it official today that the team will be named the Brooklyn Nets, sources said.
Although that name was long expected, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov flirted with the idea of changing the team name when he bought the Nets last year, even joking he might name it after his girlfriend - and change it every time he got a new one.
The Nets are touting the pricey all-access passes - which are $15,400 a person for 44 games for courtside seats - in glossy brochures they're using to woo local businesses to advertise at the arena.
The passes come with access to swanky clubs, free food and first dibs on concert tickets, boxing matches and other events.
Congrats to the Nets for remaining the Nets and not turning into something silly like the Brooklyn Gentrifiers, or Bridges, or Dodgers (heaven forbid that one). It's a solid nickname, one that connotes a basic aspect of the game with which everyone can identify. Who doesn't love the sound of the ball ripping through twine as it goes through the hoop? Fascists, that's who.
The Nets also announced that Jay-Z would open the arena with a series of star-studded concerts before the NBA season. They also intend on aggressively marketing to the sort of businessmen and wealthy New Yorkers now likely to stay in Manhattan to attend Knicks games at Madison Square Garden. By all indications, the businessmen behind the arena are looking to brand it (and the basketball team) as part of a luxurious lifestyle. It's an entirely new direction for a team that currently plays its home games in Newark.
It's as yet unclear if this gambit will work -- the Knicks are a well-established franchise with enough famous fans to maintain their status through even the worst stretch of losing seasons imaginable. It may be tough to unseat them as kings of New York, but there would be no shame in being a very successful second option. The problem is that Prokhorov and Jay-Z have rarely seemed willing to settle for anything but the top of any of their chosen pursuits. Will they accept the reality of their situation our fall short of an unrealistic goal?
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