The Nets are still planning a move to a dramatic new arena in Brooklyn, a Frank Gehry-designed basketball cathedral that will be part of a basketball and skyscraper project called Atlantic Yards. But Nets owner and developer Bruce Ratner’s plans for the stadium just can’t get enough public funding, so he had to find a clever way to get his hands on some more money. Luckily, he happens to know the Maloof brothers out in Sacramento and, exactly as we predicted here two days ago, he’s become the latest NBA owner to pin his franchise’s hopes of a new arena on funding from the federal government’s stimulus package.
(Your hard earned-money could go into this … and make Bruce Ratner rich.)
The story comes from NEW YORK MAGAZINE’s DAILY INTEL blog, which cites an article in the NEW YORK POST and conversations with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz as reason to believe that Ratner is spending most of his time begging for as much federal funding as he can get his hands on.
Here’s how Ratner plans to get to the money: By lobbying anyone with a pulse:
But Ratner is nothing if not persistent, and he’s lined up a powerful group of political supporters for Atlantic Yards, including Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg, Senator Chuck Schumer, and the project’s first elected cheerleader, Markowitz (new senator Kirsten Gillibrand hasn’t taken a position on Atlantic Yards yet). Other than Markowitz, they haven’t said whether they like the idea of using stimulus money to revive the project. And there is a long list of more worthy state projects — from the Second Avenue subway to the Cross-Harbor Freight Tunnel to high-speed upstate rail links — that would produce bigger public benefit from the stimulus bucks without bailing out a private real-estate developer.
That’s right, the owner of a professional sports franchise is trying to justify getting federal funding before subway, train and tunnel development in the busiest transportation city in the world … all because the cost of designer Frank Gehry’s concept spiraled out of control. If he does get his way, Ratner’s project will get federal funding, it’ll build up the area of land he already owns — or will own a large part of — and will bring in a new crowd that will spend more money … making him even more rich. That’s right, federal money being spent on Ratner’s project will inevitably make him richer, at the cost of other infrastructure projects in the New York City area.
In past years, the government could have told Ratner to buzz off, and he could have turned to the burgeoning classes of I-bankers living in Brooklyn itself to invest in the project through some type incorporated leveraging scheme. Not anymore. Now it’s federal moolah or bust for Ratner … or so he’d have you believe.
Of course, if you do believe that, we’ve got a bridge to sell you. Hey, what a coincidence! It’s in Brooklyn, too!