Saturday, January 3, 2009


In the first post of the New Year, here’s something not so new.

A while back, you got a glimpse of the Prudential Center, the sparkling arena in downtown Newark that is home to the New Jersey Devils, Seton Hall Pirates men’s basketball team and the New Jersey Ironmen (Major League Indoor Lacrosse). At the start of the video, I mentioned that the New Jersey Nets – former roommates with the Devils at what is now the Izod Center – should scuttle their plans to move to Brooklyn and shack up with the Devils instead.

There are a handful of NBA-affiliated arenas older than the Izod Center – formerly known as the Brendan Byrne Arena and Continental Airlines Arena – yet, this building has routinely been known as the worst facility in the league. See for yourselves.

Yes, I know... Izod? The clothing people? Yes.

If team owner Bruce Ratner sells the team, as it has been rumored, then the new owners might as well save the headache of trying to build the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. When the City of New York and New York State was basically throwing money towards the Yankees and Mets for their facilities while pondering the West Side Stadium for the Jets, it was not a stretch to believe that the Nets would move across the Hudson River before the end of the decade.

Yet, Ratner was dealing with the quagmire that Walter O’Malley dealt with a half-century earlier for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Whether the lack of movement has been public opposition, government reluctance or both, this area has never been developed in the manner than some have envisioned. Add the fact that Ratner made his money from real estate and you have a derailed train with broken tracks to its side.

New Jersey, contrary to popular opinion, is a strong market for professional sports. It sits between NYC and Philadelphia, but there is a strong economy within. As the transportation infrastructure of the State improves, getting to central cities such as Newark and Trenton will give New Jerseyites more options to travel besides driving.

The truth behind the so-called weak market for the Nets in the Garden State has less to do with travel and access and more to do with winning. Outside of the 4-5 year run earlier in the 2000s, the Nets have been quintessential losers in the NBA. Recent American sports history is littered with stories of teams finally turning the corner and enjoying the labors of success through new facilities (ex: San Diego Padres, Miami Heat and Atlanta Braves). It can still work in New Jersey, but it seems only if Ratner sells the Nets to someone who is willing to make the commitment.

Say What?!?!: Question about the NFL: As bad as the Detroit Lions looked, in all honestly, would it be crazy to think that the Kansas City Chiefs were the worst team in the league this season?

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