Nets Leave NJ, What’s Next for Sports? [AUDIO]
The New Jersey Nets played their last game in the Garden State this week, leaving New Jersey with just one professional sports team.
However, a report released last month, included in the Governor's current budget proposal, unveils plans to expand sports and entertainment in New Jersey.
The latest report from the Hanson Commission, which Governor Chris Christie formed years ago, suggests the coordination and consolidation of efforts to pursue major sports and entertainment events for the Garden State.
John Samerjan, Vice President of Public Affairs for the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, explained, "These recommendations are that the NJSEA, with its experience with sports and entertainment, the Travel and Tourism industry, and the Motion Picture & Television Commission will all become part of one entity to maximize New Jersey's place in the sports and entertainment world."
Samerjan said New Jersey is an enormous market with world-class facilities for hosting major events. He said, though, events do not only have to include professional sports teams or one-shot deals like the Super Bowl or Wrestlemania.
"It can be the Olympic trials for events. It can be balloon festivals. It can be all kinds of things," Samerjan explained.
He said events of that nature can sometimes have a much greater and longer-lasting, true economic impact to the state, than would a professional sports franchise.
The attraction of professional sports franchises, and their movement, has proven to be a complicated matter. It involves everything from a franchise willing to make a move, to the league approving it, to the financing to make it possible.
However, Samerjan said, "That's not to say it would be impossible or unlikely that there would be another professional sports franchise coming to New Jersey. We're a great market."
After 35 years of New Jersey play, the Nets played their final game in the Garden State Monday night. Next season, the Brooklyn Nets will play their home games at the $1 billion Barclays Center.