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Up until 1957 when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, the enormous Brooklyn borough of New York City housed one of the most beloved baseball teams of all time. Fans thought there was no hope left for their borough to get another professional sports team following the demolition of Ebbets Field in 1960 - just years after the Dodgers broke the color barrier, introducing the talent of Jackie Robinson to the MLB.
(Photo of billboard of Jay-Z and Mikhail Prokhorov by flickr user matthewray)
Considering there hasn’t been a professional sports team in BK since then, why the hell are Jigga Jay and some random billionaire Russian guy going to bring the Nets to Crooklyn?
Well, it all starts with Brooklyn’s population of 2.5 million people. That’s an enormous market that doesn’t strictly need to be composed of New York Knicks fans. Even though they have superstars Ama’re and Carmelo, their lack of success makes them vulnerable – they could lose fans if the Nets attract a superstar (cough cough DWIGHT HOWARD) and have success. Surely, there are many basketball fans in Brooklyn – especially considering the output of high school talent they’ve had in the last 25 years (even if those guys include burnouts Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair), and they don’t have anybody else to root for that they can call their own.
(Photo of Stephon Marbury by flickr user dgaproductions)
The market in New Jersey was much smaller than the market they’re now approaching. After going to the NBA championship in 2002 and 2003, YankeeNets (the owner of the Nets at the time) sold the team to a group headed by real estate developer Bruce Ratner for $300 million. Unlike the others in the group, both Ratner and Jay-Z wanted to move the Nets to Brooklyn to the Barclays Center, located in a multi-use residential and commercial development called the Atlantic Yards in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of the beloved borough.
This is ironically the same exact place that Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley tried so hard to have the Dodgers stadium to be moved to following the destruction of Ebbets Field (take a look here at Ebbets Field then and now). After several rather unsuccessful seasons, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov became the majority owner of the Nets in 2009 after agreeing to fund the better part of the loan for the construction of the $700 million area in Brooklyn.
(Photo of Ebbets Field above by flickr user oldballparks)
Over 50 years after the departure of their baseball team, Brooklyn finally will have a basketball team that they can call their own. The Brooklyn Dodgers’ fans were understandably upset when they left the city for the west coast – they had a very strong following due to their consistent championship contention. That being said, Brooklynites haven’t changed – the Nets are going to develop a very strong fan base there because the people are loyal.
Now, they’ll have a professional sports team to be loyal to, a co-owner they can relate to in Jay-Z, and a majority owner that has already proven that he is willing to shell out the big bucks to get the people what they want, and Brooklyn just wants their first professional sports championship since 1957.
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