Tsai Opens Up On Nets Ownership, Potential Barclays Center Acquisition
Alibaba co-Founder Joe Tsai is "perfectly fine" waiting until January '21 to take over majority control of the Nets, while he would "love to buy a stake in Barclays Center," according to Brian Lewis of the N.Y. POST. Tsai, in his first public comments since buying a minority share of the team, said, “I’m very comfortable with the timeline we have set out at the original point of making the deal, which is in January 2021. Look, it’s only like 18 months away." Tsai bought 49% of the Nets a year ago for over $1B. While he also "holds an option" to purchase full control of the team in '21 -- a source said that it is for the entire remaining 51% -- there also are suggestions he "might buy a share of Barclays Center" from Nets Majority Owner Mikhail Prokhorov as well. Tsai: “I don’t know (if that will happen). But I would say this: If you talk to all the NBA owners, they all say it makes a lot of sense to combine the ownership of a team and the arena." He added, "I hope that I would have an opportunity. But it’s up to Mikhail Prokhorov, who owns the arena, to figure out what they want to do.” More Tsai: “I feel extremely lucky to come into this situation when I do have an opportunity to take over the team -- exercising the option -- I feel like I’ve inherited something that’s very, very good, that’s kind of passed on from the prior ownership. And that’s a fine situation to be in" (N.Y. POST, 5/10).
ALL IN ON LIBERTY? Tsai said that he "hopes to increase the Liberty's fan base" following his January purchase of the team. The AP's Doug Feinberg notes the team is playing one regular-season game at Barclays this year, with the rest of the games at the Westchester County Center that "seats less than 3,000 people." Tsai: "Where they are playing now isn't ideal because the size of the venue is limited. It's a place which is hard to get to and not accessible to the fans. We want to improve that situation, exploring all possibilities. ... We want to work out some things where the team could get better exposure in bigger venues and Barclays Center is a perfect venue." Liberty coach Katie Smith said Tsai "definitely wants to help grow the fan base and wants to make sure we feel empowered and get what we need." Smith: "He said he definitely is a fan of the team and has put people in place for us to succeed" (AP, 5/10).