Downtown

Barclays Center and Nets sell to Alibaba founder

August 16, 2019 Meaghan McGoldrick
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has set July 25, 2016 as the date of the upcoming Democratic Convention. Brooklyn is one of three finalists. Photo by Mary Frost

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has entered into a “definitive agreement” to sell his controlling share of the team — and their home-base.

Prokhorov, who has commanded the team since 2010, will sell his 51 percent share in the Nets as well as Barclays Center to Alibaba co-founder and Executive Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai, who purchased a 49 percent stake in the Brooklyn team back in 2017.

The sale — first rumored in March — was announced Friday morning by BSE Global, which manages and controls Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Islanders business operations.

According to the New York Post, Tsai, who was expected to buy out Prokhorov by 2021 at the earliest after his initial $1 billion investment will pay another $2.35 billion.

He’ll get Barclays Center, too, according to Friday’s dispatch (which didn’t put a price on the sale).

With the purchase of Prokhorov’s shares, Tsai will become the sole investor in the team upon transaction closing — expected to come by the end of September.

Tsai will then assume the role of chairperson of the board of directors for Barclays Center, and NBA Governor of the Nets and its affiliates — pending required approval of the NBA Board of Governors. He already owns the WNBA’s New York Liberty, which plays at Madison Square Garden.

The current management team will continue to run the venue and the team, officials said, with Brett Yormack, CEO of BSE Global, overseeing the transition before departing for a new role, to be announced in the coming weeks.

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“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 in a statement. “The team is in a better place today than ever before and I know that Joe [Tsai] 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.”

“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,” Tsai said. “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.”

Prokhorov isn’t the first to make a trade for his stake in the Downtown Brooklyn entertainment hub. In 2013, Jay-Z sold his stake in the team and the venue for $1.5 million.

Despite this, Barclays continues to rank well, having topped the Billboard “Arena Power” list at least once in 2013 and coming in at number five as recently as last year. According to the ranking, Barclays Center —which holds almost 20,000 people — had a 12-month gross revenue of $80.52 million, including its sporting events, concerts and other ticketed affairs.

“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,” Tsai said.

Correction (4:36 p.m.): An earlier version of this article named Joseph Tsai as executive vice president of Alibaba. He is executive vice chairman.

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