Newark hopes to land a permanent team after Nets leave

The insinuations of basketball inadequacy are potentially harmful for the Prudential Center, if only because the city of Newark — which owns the arena — wants to lure a permanent NBA team once the Nets leave.

According to a source familiar with the situation, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Newark resident Shaquille O’Neal have spoken several times about the subject and are in the process of arranging a meeting with the league.

One potential obstacle is the Nets, who don’t want a team just 13 miles away from the Barclays Center so soon after their own transition.

As a response to the various comments from the Nets, a spokesperson for the Prudential Center released a statement lauding the arena’s history — which included “more basketball games (last year) than any other arena in the U.S. but for Staples Center,” thanks in part to WNBA and NCAA Tournament games — while strategically mentioning the Barclays Center’s competition in midtown.

“Like Staples, the Garden and other new, big-city arenas, the Rock is a state-of-the-art facility meant to host all kinds of world-class sports and entertainment events. That’s why we have become one of the 10 busiest arenas in the world.”

— Reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News

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