Billionaire Joe Tsai has agreed to buy the controlling interest in the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center from Mikhail Prokhorov, the team announced Friday.
Tsai, co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, finalized an agreement last year to purchase a 49% stake in the Nets from Prokhorov. The deal gave Tsai the option to buy the remaining 51% share of the franchise prior to the 2021-22 NBA season, but he has now entered into what was billed in Friday’s announcement as a “definitive agreement” with Prokhorov to buy the controlling interest in the Nets as well as full ownership of the Barclays Center. The New York Post has reported the total cost of the transaction–including Barclays Center debt–at $3.37 billion, but financial details were not disclosed in Friday’s announcement.
Upon the closing of the arena and team transactions, which is expected by the end of September, Tsai will assume the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors for Barclays Center, and NBA Governor of the Nets and its affiliates. The transaction requires the approval of the NBA Board of Governors.
The current management team will continue to run the venue and team under new ownership. Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global, will oversee the transition to new ownership before departing for a new role. Yormark will announce his next career move in the coming weeks.
“It has been an honor and a joy to open Barclays Center, bring the Nets to Brooklyn, and watch them grow strong roots in the community while cultivating global appeal,” said Prokhorov. “The team is in a better place today than ever before and I know that Joe will build on that success, while continuing to deliver the guest experience at Barclays Center that our fans, employees, and colleagues in the industry enjoy. Without Brett’s innovative foresight and leadership, we would not be where we are today with the Nets and Barclays Center. Brett had always made it clear to me that when the arena and team sold, he would move on and begin his next journey. Thank you to Brett, who has been a true partner and friend over the past 15 years.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago. He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organization with all his resources, and he refused to tank,” said Tsai. “I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail’s vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful. I also want to thank Dmitry and Brett for their guidance and friendship, and I hope to see them often in Brooklyn.” Tsai continued, “We are committed to maintaining Barclays Center’s iconic status by bringing together culture, community, and entertainment for our fans and everyone in New York.”
“I want to personally thank Mikhail and Onexim CEO Dmitry Razumov for their loyalty and support. We have shared an incredible partnership and I am so grateful to have been part of this team,” said Yormark. “When I was hired nearly 15 years ago, my goal was to realize the vision for Barclays Center, move the Nets to Brooklyn, and build a world-class sports and entertainment company. It has been a tremendous honor leading BSE Global, and working alongside some of the most brilliant professionals in the industry. I have always envisioned beginning my next chapter when Mikhail and Dmitry sold the arena and the team, and with today’s announcement, that time has come. I have the utmost confidence that Joe and his group, alongside current management, will continue to lead the way in shaping a strong future for Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets. While overseeing a smooth transition of Barclays Center and the Nets to new ownership, I will also continue to oversee Mikhail’s other Onexim assets.”
Yormark was hired in 2005 to lead all aspects of the Nets move to Brooklyn and the opening of Barclays Center, including the branding, marketing, event programming, and sales. As CEO, he has transformed the Nets, revolutionized the team’s consumer appeal, and led Barclays Center to become a top-grossing arena worldwide. This was Yormark’s third stint with the Nets, during which he served as the team’s longest tenured business chief. He first worked in the ticket sales department in 1988. He also oversaw the major transformation and reopening of NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, which is home to the Brooklyn Nets’ G League team, the Long Island Nets. Most recently, BSE Global partnered in the acquisition, renovation, and reopening of the iconic Manhattan venue Webster Hall, which Yormark was instrumental in facilitating.
This transaction has no impact on Webster Hall and NYCB LIVE, including its surrounding Hub development, which will continue to be managed by Prokhorov’s Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc.