Nets Sticking With NY

Rumors have been flying that the New Jersey Nets basketball team is on the market and the team’s future home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is facing setbacks, but according to Nets principal owner and developer Bruce Ratner, there’s no truth to the talk.

Sources reportedly close to the matter recently told the Newark Star-Ledger that a group led by the mayor of Newark and the owner of the New Jersey Devils hockey team has been in discussions to purchase the Nets and move the team to the Prudential Center, which could provide a big boost to the arena and possibly knock out a competing venue.

"The team is very simply not for sale and any stories that suggest or insinuate that we would be interested in listening to those conversations are flat-out false," Ratner said in a statement. "We are focused on breaking ground on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn later this year and building all of Atlantic Yards, nothing else.

"There have been no discussions with any elected officials or business executives about buying the team or moving to Newark."

The Barclays Center and surrounding Atlantic Yards development were cleared for takeoff in February after a federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit by opponents of the plan. But since then, the Frank Gehry-designed project has been slow to get off the ground.

The $4 billion mini-city that development company Forest City Ratner Cos. plans to build could face financial troubles because of the current mortgage crisis and credit crunch.

And with the proposed cost of the 18,000-capacity Barclays Center reportedly reaching $950 million, even FCR’s director of finance has questioned where the company would obtain funding for the project, according to court documents obtained by the Star-Ledger.

"The credit markets are in turmoil at this time. Many lenders and bond insurers are facing financial difficulties and becoming much more cautious," finance director Andrew Silberfein said. "There is a serious question as to whether, given the current state of the debt market, the underwriters will be able to proceed with the financing for the arena."

However, it appears the tide has turned, as Ratner told the paper through a spokesperson that Silberfein’s statement was no longer accurate.

"We are very confident we will get the funds necessary for the arena," he said. "During the past year we closed on two of the largest construction deals in our company’s history, totaling more than $1.3 billion, and we expect to do the same here."

Time may be of the essence, as FCR faces another suit claiming that according to state law, the developer must "materially improve" the land it obtained through eminent domain within 10 years or return it to former owners.