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REPORTS: ISLES MAY BUY NETS AND MOVE THEM TO THE ISLAND
Published May 8, 1998
New York Sports Ventures (NYSV), which recently completed its purchase of the Islanders, is involved in "serious discussions" to purchase the Nets for $150-200M and return the NBA team to Long Island, according to Valenti, Logan, et al. of NEWSDAY. The deal would provide NYSV with another tenant for Nassau Coliseum and "bolster its bid to persuade" Nassau County officials to support a new $200M arena. NYSV co-Owner Howard Milstein met yesterday with Nassau County officials regarding the development of a 70- acre Coliseum site, but NEWSDAY reports that those negotiations "appear to have slowed" in recent weeks. Also, sources said that Milstein has had "preliminary talks" with Mets Owner Fred Wilpon about moving the Isles "and the Nets, if that deal can be completed," into the Mets' planned multi- use stadium. Nassau officials said that the Isles "are bound" to their Coliseum lease through 2015, but a Mets exec "confirmed" that talks had taken place, and said Wilpon also had "been in contact with" the Nets about the team "playing some games and possibly all" at the proposed new facility. Nets spokesperson Howard Rubenstein confirmed the team has had discussions about a "possible move" to Long Island but declined comment about a possible sale. NYSV spokesperson Gary Lewi said that Milstein had been involved in "serious discussions" with Nets ownership (NEWSDAY, 5/8). MORE: Sources said that the Nets' lease at Continental Arena with the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA), which runs through 2021, contains an option to leave the facility following the '99-2000 season "without financial penalty." The option "would have to be exercised" by January 1, 2000, and "would be the Nets' last chance to break the lease without penalty." NEWSDAY also reports that Nets reps "contacted" MSG officials about playing home games there "until a move from the Meadowlands can be finalized." MSG spokesperson Barry Watkins declined comment (NEWSDAY, 5/8). In N.Y., Tracy Connor reports three scenarios are being discussed between the NYSV and the Nets: one "involves [NYSV] buying the Nets outright;" another has the Nets owners keeping "a third of the team;" and the third would have the Nets owners "also getting a piece" of the Isles. A NYSV spokesperson the group "hopes to nail down a deal for the year 2000 in the next 60 days" (N.Y. POST, 5/8). A possible Nets move was front page news in today's N.Y. POST, carrying the banner headline, "Escape From New Jersey" (5/8).