Hip-Hop King Jay-Z’s name is synonymous with The Nets, and folks in Brooklyn are proud that a fellow native is doing it big. Fans are waiting in breathless excitement for the stadium opening for Game One and borough officials are happy with the additional revenue this new venture will bring to Brooklyn.
Concerts are sold out (eight of them) and numerous Barclays Center stadium job vacancies filled—a much-needed boost for the City’s economy. The word out there on the rapper’s affiliation with the project was that he owned the Nets.
Now, the New York Times is saying not so fast. Even though Jay-Z invested $1 million nine years ago in the basketball team that relocated from New Jersey to Brooklyn for the upcoming NBA season, his net stake in the Nets is reportedly less than one percent. Well, one-fifteenth of one percent to be exact.
Shocked? So was I. The popular rapper sure pulls in widespread publicity with his name touted as the face of the team and stadium. It has certainly given Brooklyn a sharp boost in the sporting world and shifts Madison Square Garden away from the complete monopoly of New York City basketball games. It will also be the venue for the eight sold concerts mentioned above, where Jay-Z himself will perform in September.
Developer Bruce Ratner is the one who owns The Nets and the Barclay's arena. He reportedly recruited Jay-Z to help with the venture, probably because he is a native of Brooklyn who grew in in the projects not far from the downtown Atlantic area, where the sprawling stadium dwarfs the neighborhood. Ratner probably thought he could also capitalize on the rapper’s notoriety to attract fans and breathe some life into the deal, and he was right.
Despite his miniscule monetary share of the investment, the multi-millionaire rapper’s name is the only one publicly associated with the project. Whenever The Nets are mentioned in Brooklyn, the locals think Jay-Z. Merchandize, team logo and uniforms, concerts, the brand—all linked to “King Jay.” He even reportedly coached them on stadium security protocol for the locals and on what type of music to play.
Talk about maximizing a little into a lot, this playa sure knows how to play the corporate game and “run this town.”
My "people" tried reaching Jay-Z's "people," but alas we don't seem to have enough clout to get through to the Hip-Hop King to get his side of things. If I am granted an audience, you will be the first to know. Stay tuned.