The Nets' proposed Brooklyn arena, facing a series of deadlines that could have imperiled the project and the team's sale to a Russian billionaire, has cleared a significant legal hurdle. The New York State Court of Appeals rejected a key challenge Tuesday, clearing the way for the state to seize land and issue tax-free bonds for constructions costs.
Here are the breaking stories from the New York Times and Bloomberg News.
More details to follow.
UPDATE: The court rejected a challenge seeking to prevent the state from using eminent domain to seize land for the $4.9 billion, 22-acre project, which also includes commercial and residential real estate development. Other lawsuits by opponents of the project are pending, but this hurdle was key because it clears the way for the state to meet a Dec. 31 IRS deadline to begin selling about $700 million in construction bonds with tax-free status. Without the bond issue, the project would face further delays that would jeopardize plans by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prohorov to buy a majority stake in the team and its new arena.
UPDATE: Nets owner Bruce Ratner issued a statement applauding his latest legal victory, saying, "Our commitment to the entire project is as strong today as when we started six years ago." But a key opponent said the fight to stop the development is "far from over."
"While this is a terrible day for taxpaying homeowners in New York, this is not the end of our fight to keep the government from stealing our homes and businesses," said Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for a group called Develop, Don't Destroy Brooklyn.
UPDATE: Among the other lawsuits pending is one filed last week in state Supreme Court by neighborhood groups and elected officials seeking to overturn the Empire State Development Corp.'s approval of a construction plan for the project. If those opponents obtain a temporary restraining order, it's not clear how that would affect the bond issue and other deadlines facing Ratner and the Nets.
The Nets (0-13) embark on a four-game road trip beginning in Denver Tuesday night, trying to avoid the worst start in NBA history. The 1988 Miami Heat and 1999 Clippers both started 0-17. The Nets have been devastated by injuries to key players Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, and Yi Jianlian, among others, and have been aggressively clearing salary-cap space in the hopes of luring two marquee free agents next summer. A key component of that strategy has been Ratner's plan to abandon the antiquated IZOD Center in the Meadowlands and move to a new arena within the New York City limits.