For the past few years, developer and New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner has been angling to move his team to Brooklyn. With each passing day, though, it’s looking less and less likely. First, the slumping economy complicated Ratner’s plans for the Atlantic Yards development, of which the Nets’ proposed new arena is part, and now the AIG bailout is getting in the way. From the New York Observer:
Today, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell publicly released a letter he wrote to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, requesting that the Obama administration act to block Barclays bank from leasing naming rights for the arena—a move that, if realized, would be a major blow to the project …
Mr. Pascrell, a Democrat who represents an area full of New Jersey Nets fans just west of the Izod, wrote to Mr. Geithner that he should block the naming rights deal, which has not yet closed, because Barclays received monies from embattled insurance company AIG, which itself received tens of billions in federal bailout dollars.
I realize the futility of arguing against the notion that TARP recipients–especially indirect TARP recipients like Barclays–can’t indulge in sponsorships, but I do it anyway. Anyhow, it’s clear that Pascrell is covering his hide back in his district and not making a principled stand. As such, I would say that the Obama Administration won’t take such a meddlesome step–in essence preventing the return of major-league sports to Brooklyn–but one never knows these days.