050108netsay.jpgUnnamed sources are telling the Jersey Star-Ledger that Bruce Ratner, principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, has secretly met with the owners of the New Jersey Devils and Newark mayor Cory Booker to discuss selling the Nets and moving them to Newark. If true, it would signal the end of Ratner’s troubled bid to relocate the Nets to downtown Brooklyn, where he is trying to build a controversial $4 billion stadium, residential, office and retail complex on 22 acres of land.

Ratner’s spokesman says, “The team is absolutely not for sale. We're inches away from completing the deal in Brooklyn.” But his development company, Forest City, recently acknowledged that most of the project, which promised considerable affordable housing, will be postponed because of economic downturn. Nevertheless, Ratner is still determined to start construction on the arena.

Carl Goldberg, chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, says, “The likelihood of the Nets actually building a new facility in Brooklyn and leaving our facility at the Izod Center is diminishing by the moment.” And George Zoffinger, former chief executive of the New Jersey Sports Authority, tells the Star-Ledger that the proposed Brooklyn arena – which could cost $1 billion to build – is economically unviable: "When you start to spend north of $500 million for an arena, you can't generate the cash flow necessary to generate a decent return on the investment.

Despite all this, Goldman Sachs, which is leading the financing for the arena, is “confident we will close on the financing for the project by the third quarter.” To try and make sure that doesn’t happen, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, community activists and some local politicians will be rallying at the Atlantic Yards site this Saturday May 3rd at 2 p.m. Details here.

Photo of Nets billboard near Atlantic Yards footprint by threecee.