The NBA Board of Governors on Wednesday unanimously approved the sale of the New Jersey Nets to an ownership group that plans to move the team to New York.
The league expects the sale to the group led by Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner to close next week.
"What was only an idea less than a year ago is quickly becoming
a reality," Ratner said in statement released after the approval.
Ratner and his group will pay an estimated $300 million to buy
the much-traveled team from Community Young Organization.
Ratner plans to build a 19,000-seat arena that will be part of a
$2.5 billion office, residential and shopping complex.
The arena, which faces opposition from area residents who might
be displaced, is expected to be completed for the 2007-2008 season.
The entire project is expected to take 10 years to complete.
"We're very thankful to Commissioner David Stern and the NBA's
Board of Governors," Ratner said. "We are humbled by this vote
and excited about the prospects of putting together a team that all
Nets fans in the Metropolitan area can be proud of."
The borough has not had a major sports franchise since
baseball's Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1957.
Ratner has come under criticism in recent weeks for cost-saving
player moves that seemingly have hurt the Nets' chances to be
successful on the court next season.
All-Star power forward Kenyon Martin was shipped to Denver last
month after the Nets realized that matching a proposed offer sheet
by the Nuggets would force them to pay him $23 million in salary
and front-loaded bonuses before the start of the season.
The moved annoyed Jason Kidd, the All-Star point guard who
turned the also-ran organization into a winner after being acquired
three years ago.
The Nets have played at the Continental Airlines Arena since the
1981-82 season. Philantropist Ray Chambers purchased the team in
the mid 1990s with the hope of building an arena in Newark, N.J.,
for both the Nets and the New Jersey Devils of the NHL.
When the arena deal fell through, the team was put up for sale
and Ratner's group bought it.
The Nets began as the New Jersey Americans in the old American
Basketball Association in 1967 and played in a converted armory in
Teaneck. In subsequent years, they played in arenas in Commack,
West Hempstead and Uniondale -- all on Long Island -- and then at
Rutgers University before moving into the Meadowlands sports
complex in East Rutherford, N.J.
In a separate action, the league's governors also unanimously
approved the sale of a minority interest in the Golden State
Warriors to a Silicon Valley investor group led by Michael Marks.
"These transactions demonstrate the attractiveness of NBA teams
to sophisticated investors, and we are pleased to welcome both
ownership groups to the NBA," Stern said.