Christie says he's had 'casual' talks with NBA on a new team for N.J.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
BY JOHN BRENNAN
STAFF WRITER JOHN O'BOYLE / THE STAR-LEDGER
Christie arrives at a press conference at Newark’s Prudential Center, which touted the upcoming NCAA men’s college basketball tournament games to be played there in March.
Governor Christie has had “casual conversations” with National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern about the possibility of Newark getting another NBA team once the Nets leave for Brooklyn in 2012, he said Tuesday.
Christie said he is aware that Stern has expressed doubts about the feasibility of a third NBA franchise joining the Nets and New York Knicks in the same metropolitan area.
“But sometimes people don’t say things to me that are going to make me unhappy — you know how that works,” the sometimes combative Christie said with a smile at a press conference at Newark’s Prudential Center. The event touted the upcoming NCAA men’s college basketball tournament games to be played there in March.“I think there is a future for NBA basketball here in Newark,” Christie said. “I think that New Jersey having a state-of-the-art facility like Newark has here, you have the possibility of doing that. We support three [National Hockey League] teams in the region, so I don’t see why we can’t support three basketball teams.”
The Nets moved to Newark last fall from the Izod Center for the first of what is scheduled to be two seasons at “The Rock” while the Barclays Center is being built near downtown Brooklyn. But thanks to the Nets’ lame duck status, lack of a charismatic star, and another poor record this season, the Nets remain last in the NBA in average attendance at 13,123 per game.
That’s up just 20 fans per game from last season.
Christie said Newark will impress fans from whichever four visiting NCAA schools advance to the third tournament round to play there in March.
“They’ll say, ‘I’m glad I came here — I had a great meal, saw great entertainment at The Rock,’” Christie said. “And for the team that [advances] to the Final Four, they’ll have even fonder memories of Newark.”
The Prudential Center beat out a bid by the 30-year-old Izod Center, among others, to host the NCAA contests. The Newark facility also last year surpassed Izod Center in ticket sales for concerts and family shows.
But Christie said that Newark’s success does not have any relevance to the future of Izod Center, which Christie hopes to see privatized.
“Newark competed for this and got it, and that’s good for Newark and good for the state, which is what matters most to me,” Christie said.
Triple Five, which runs the giant Mall of America in Minnesota and the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, signed a letter of intent last month to take over management of the stalled Xanadu shopping and entertainment complex adjacent to the Izod Center. Christie would not address whether Mall of America might also manage the arena, saying only that he would have “major announcements in the coming weeks about Mall of America’s involvement” at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.
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Edited by ChilltownDevs2673, 25 January 2011 - 10:30 PM.