Q: How do you explain the sudden vogue for stadiums and arenas? So many teams want a new home — the Mets in Queens, the Yankees in the Bronx, the Jets with their doomed project in Manhattan. And you’re building a new arena for the Nets in Brooklyn.
A: It has to do with the economics of sports. The high salaries of athletes drive the whole thing, because it creates a need for revenue. In the case of the Nets, we need an arena that has suites and luxury seating, and where you can put up advertisements all over the place.
Q: Since you’re the principal owner of the Nets and paying Vince Carter $15 million a year, why not just slash players’ salaries, lower ticket costs and preserve the old, historic stadiums?
A: Is that a joke? We have to be competitive.
Q: You and your fellow investors bought the Nets last August for $300 million. Have you always loved basketball?
A: I was never a basketball fan, but I wanted to bring a team to Brooklyn, a team that could be like the Brooklyn Dodgers. There’s something intangible that a team contributes, something as intangible as a soul.
Q: What do you think of the Meadowlands, out in Jersey, where the Nets currently play?
A: It’s hard to get to the Meadowlands if you don’t have a car. There’s no train from New York, and you can’t take the bus because when the game is done, you’ve got to wait.
Q: What’s wrong with waiting for a bus?
A :Nothing. I love waiting for buses! I love Port Authority! I spend my afternoons there! I love panhandlers!
In Ratner’s defense, if someone asked me if I thought the Meadowlands was a historic venue worth preserving, I might think it was a put-on, too.