'Stimulus' Bill to Save... Brooklyn Nets?

The Nets made the mistake of leaking this idea before the money was approved. They were supposed to save such discussions until after Congress passed it. That said, once states start divvying up the cash that Barack Obama wants to give them, you can bet the Nets — and a host of other franchises — will start lining up for a share of the pot:

The future of Atlantic Yards –Brooklyn’s biggest development project — could hinge on President Obama’s $827 billion stimulus plan.

City and state officials say they expect developer Bruce Ratner to lobby hard for a piece of the federal pork to help bail out his reeling $4 billion plan to bring an NBA arena and 16 residential and office towers to Prospect Heights, which is in jeopardy because of the economic downtown.

Borough President Marty Markowitz, the project’s biggest cheerleader, said yesterday that funds from the stimulus bill should go to offset arena construction, and especially aid Ratner in a revamp of Long Island Rail Road’s Vanderbilt rail yard.

“This project is shovel-ready, and the jobs it would create are needed now,” said Markowitz, adding Atlantic Yards would also boost businesses nearby.

With hundreds of billions to spend, the federal government might just buy Los Angeles an NFL team — or help the Nets lure LeBron James to their taxpayer-financed Brooklyn home.