Nader to rail against arena

The Brooklyn Paper
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Consumer advocate and potential presidential spoiler Ralph Nader is coming to town this week to speak out against the proposed Brooklyn arena and Westside Manhattan stadium projects.

An outspoken opponent of government-sponsored sports facilities, Nader runs a Web site,, devoted to educating the public about the sports industry.

“Ralph Nader opposes corporate welfare and sees the stadium agreements where the government pays for the stadium and the corporations get the benefit as a form of corporate welfare boondoggle for very wealthy owners of sports franchises,” said Kevin Zeese, a spokesman for Nader.

Nader will host a news conference in Manhattan on Monday afternoon to speak out against the stadiums as part of his Northeast campaign tour.

But many Ratner arena opponents won’t be attending.

“We don’t want to get involved in partisan politics,” said Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Development Don’t Destroy — Brooklyn, a group of area tenants, residents and businesses who oppose the project.

“But we fully support Mr. Nader’s position on the Ratner proposal and the Westside Development proposal,” Goldstein added.

Nader raised the ire of many Democrats in 2000 who blamed him for taking away enough votes from Al Gore to give George Bush the presidency. And he has curried little favor from the party with his 2004 run as an independent, which many Democrats believe will hurt the presumed Democratic nominee, John Kerry, more than Bush.

Developer Bruce Ratner is looking to build a $2.5 billion residential, retail and commercial development at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues extending into Prospect Heights.

In order to build the $435 million arena to house his newly purchased New Jersey Nets, Ratner needs to purchase air rights to build over the MTA rail yards and must buy out or ask the state to condemn much of the rest of the property.

It is still not clear how much public money will be needed to build the project, but a Ratner executive said it was most likely in “the hundreds of millions.”

At the same time, the Jets are looking to build a new stadium on the Westside that would cost $600 million in public financing.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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