NEW YORK -- With the fast-rising Barclays Center as a backdrop, homegrown rap icon Jay-Z announced Monday that he wanted two things from his ownership partners: He wanted the New Jersey Nets to someday become the Brooklyn Nets and he wanted to open the arena with a concert.
"We're going to open this arena right here with a concert. Maybe one, maybe two, maybe three ... I sound like LeBron," the Brooklyn rapper said.
Jay-Z, a part owner of the Nets, didn't go as far as to start counting future championship rings, the way his friend LeBron James with the Miami Heat, but he did promise more than one concert. Dates have not yet been determined.
Jay-Z appeared at a news conference outside of Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn across the street from the Barclays Center with developer Bruce Ratner and Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz. The New York Daily News reported that the star named Shawn Carter, who grew up in the Marcy Projects, will perform eight concerts to celebrate the arena's opening, where all-access passes are expected to go for up to $15,400 a season.
Although most figured Brooklyn Nets would be the team's name, the moniker became official Monday. Markowitz said that since Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov bought the franchise, they toyed with some other names, such as the Brooklyn Kings or the Brooklyn Bridges but decided to keep the Nets nickname when the team moves to New York for the 2012-13 season. Markowitz didn't waste time stirring the pot with the Knicks, either.
"I can't wait, for those Knicks, a.k.a. Manhattan Knicks, to step out of the way for what will surely be our NBA champions, the Brooklyn Nets," he said.
The Nets will tout the entertainer as the face of the new arena, scheduled to open in September 2012.
"From the moment the Barclays Center became a reality, I knew this meant something significant for Brooklyn," Jay-Z said. "This is where I'm from, I'll always be Brooklyn, and opening this arena will mean more to me than anywhere else. I also look forward to opening night for the Brooklyn Nets. We're going to create an atmosphere like only Brooklyn can."
Christopher Hunt is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.