The Man Who Would Be Kings

Wannabe 'Brooklyn Nets' Owner Ratner Already Is a Man for All Subsidies

Then there's the land. MTA spokes-man Tom Kelly has twice told reporters that the MTA board had granted Ratner an option to build on the LIRR site. When pressed by Richard Brodsky, chair of the state assembly's committee on public authorities, Kelly protested that he'd been misquoted. Development experts say air rights for a 21-acre project like Ratner's could easily be worth half a billion dollars or more to the cash-strapped agency.

Ultimately, the decision will rest largely with people who seldom set foot in Brooklyn: George Pataki—a Columbia Law School classmate of Ratner's—and the MTA board, which, as city residents have become all too aware, is beyond the reach of local lawmakers. But first, it's up to another noted New York George to determine whether Bruce Ratner beats out fellow billionaires Charles Wang and Jon Corzine to become the next owner of the Nets. Will Steinbrenner balk at delivering the Nets to a man who'd compete for city dollars with his dormant dreams of a new Yankee Stadium? Will he succumb to the lure of a big payday from a Ratner bid, juiced by the promise of public arena funds? For answers to these questions and more, stay tuned to a sports section near you.

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