Billionaire Joseph Tsai is reportedly in talks to buy Barclays Center from Mikhail Prokhorov, a move that could bolster Tsai’s potential majority ownership of the Brooklyn Nets.
Tsai, co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, finalized an agreement last year to purchase a 49 percent stake in the Nets from Prokhorov. While the Nets ownership stake was included in that transaction, the agreement did not affect the ownership of Barclays Center–which Prokhorov owns, along with the lease at Uniondale, NY’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
According to a report in the New York Post, Tsai is now engaged in discussions about a separate transaction that would allow him to purchase both arenas. Owning Barclays Center could give Tsai an edge in eventually gaining control of the Nets, as his agreement to buy 49 percent of the team gives him the option to purchase the majority share in the club prior to the 2021-22 NBA season. It is believed that the NBA would welcome Tsai as an owner, and that having control of the Barclays Center could accelerate his potential ownership of the Nets. However, the report of a potential sale of the arena was disputed by the Barclays Center and the Nets. More from the New York Post:
It also lets Prokhorov, whom Forbes estimates is worth $9.8 billion, sell Tsai his 51 percent stake in the Nets ahead of schedule, a high-ranking sports executive familiar with the talks told The Post.
A sale to Tsai would be embraced by the NBA, which is anxious for him to take control of the Nets so he can help the league grow in China, sources said. Tsai is a member of NBA China, which conducts league business in that country, even though he doesn’t yet control a team.
“The league would be ecstatic,” a source said….
A spokesman for Barclays and the Nets disputed this story, declining to give further details.
Barclays Center originally opened for the Nets in 2012, and later added a second major sports team when the NHL’s New York Islanders moved there in 2015. However, the Islanders are currently pursuing their own arena as part of a larger project at Belmont Park. The team is splitting home games this season between Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum.
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