Newsday (Nassau Edition) from Hempstead, New York on September 21, 2003 · 53
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Newsday (Nassau Edition) from Hempstead, New York · 53

Hempstead, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 21, 2003
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n i Wv 3AWfc IM MMHO-mik t UIMM4 v t a J -1 Ji - - lM ( l 1 Wang Aims to Bring Nets Back' to LI WANG from AS "Jo for Wang the business world has long paralleled and often aegued onto the basketball court where his sharp-elbowed tactics earned him a reputation as one of high-tech’s tough guys These days Wang no longer works for the Ialan-dia software company he co-fbunded (he retired abruptly last November) and it’s doubtful he keeps sneakers that dose But his passion fbr basketball and for empire buildr ing are unmminiahed Indeed if the 59-yearold Shanghai native has his way he’ll soon be combining the two in a way that friends say fulfills a lifelong dream After a foiled attempt to acquire the Nets in 1998 Wang has emerged as one of the three primary bid-dors fbr the team which officially went on the auction block Monday Those dose to him say the combination of Wang nil the Nets could signal that the stars are coming into alignment fbr Wang who already owns the New York Islanders hockey team and the Arena Football League franchise New York Dragons but fbr whom hoops remains the overarching passion “If he had to sign off an his career the pinnacle would be getting an NBA team” said Gary Wadler a renowned sports physician and head of the Nassau County Sprats Commission a nonprofit group that promotes sporting events in the region Wadler has known Wang since he helped broker Wang’s last attempt to bring the Nets home “He’s a man with a reputation for building empires” Wadler said' “He would be a passionate owner He’s a hands-on guy” Wang’s passion for basketball was cultivated in the schnd yards of Queens where he grew up one of three sons to parents who had fled Communist China in 1952 A graduate of Queens College Wang combined a knack for software programming with an obsession for build-ing a company He and his co-founders turned the small American aim of Switzerland-based Computer Associ ates into a powerhouse that overtook the company More than 200 acquisitions made during his reign at CA made the firm at one time the world’s third-largest software company “He is amazing for his vision and his creativity his ability to get from vision to actuality” said Stony Brook University president Shirley Strum-Kenny a longtime friend of Wang and a former CA board member “He’s very smart and be has great enthusiasm and energy It’ll be interesting to Bee him apply those skills to athletics which is a great passion ofms” Strum-Kenny said she’s never seen him play but understands Wang to be “very good but tough” News accounts have portrayed Wang as a "no blood no find” player who used to work on his jump shot by having his wife Nancy Li hold a broom above him to simulate a defender “Hell beat you on sheer determination” Paul Lancy a member of Wang’s inner circle who played ball with him weekly said m 1996 “His desire is for greater dramatically 1996 “His desire is than the average person It’s the same thing in business Never say die” But the Nets’ purchase will be anything but a layup for Wang Computer Associates remains under federal investigation for accounting practices during a period that includes Wang’s reign And while he and the company have said the accounting was proper federal probes lend an air of uncertainty to any eventual ownership Through an Islanders spokesman Wang declined an interview Other uncertainties loom Nassau County officials say the county does not have up-front money to pay fbr the expanded sports complex that may be needed to lure the Nets “It’s still a long shot this will happen but of all the players involved I'm happy Charles is the one in Would the Nets be a successful franchise if the team moved to Long Island? Log on to srwwnswsdaycom to tell us our corner” Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozxi said Thursday The two have known each other since Suozxi was mayor of Glen Cove five years ago and he approached Wang fbr help sponsoring a tail-ships display in town “He develops a straightforward simple idea and he has that guide him and he sticks to it” Suozxi said While Nassau is in no position to pay for a complex Suozzi said the county and the state could be willing to apply future proceeds caDeeted from moving the team here — state Income taxes from players for instance — to a new facility There Wang’s long relationship with Gov George Pataki and Pataki’a political mentor former US Sen Alfonso D Amato will pay dividends Islanders sources said Pataki had lunch on Long Island with Wang on Friday and that the possible redevelopment of this Coliseum and the Nets were among the topics D’ Amato didn’t return a call Wang’s fortune wont hurt Wang and his successor at CA Saqjay Kumar paid $190 million for the Islanders In 2001 Forbes said former billionaire Wang was worth $925 million As of November he owned 17 million CA shares now worth about $470 million He owns $45 million of Oyster Bay real estate paid $23 million fbr a parcel in Plainview and is listed as owner of properties in Hawaii and Manhattan Beach Calif among other places He has a vacation home on the island of St Martin “There’s no better person on Long Island to do it a Nets’ deal and new arena than Charles” Kumar said in an interview last month stressing he considers himself a silent partner in the Islanders and wont play a role in any possible Nets buy People who know him cant imagine anything standing in Wang’s way “I just dont think people understand that side of him said Wadler referring to Wang’s passion for basketball “If somebody was asked to produce in this kind of venture Fd bet my dime on this guy” t - Ratner Envisions a Home Court in Brooklyn RATNER from A5 the developer And that lunch so many years ago she noted says a lot about the man who is hoping to bring the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn “They’d taken time to educate me That’s the kind of seed sowing he does” she said “If he’s doing this with me he’s doing it with many people” If Ratner does win the bidding for the Nets it might be due to the years of groundwork he has already dime in Brooklyn He has substantial developments already near his proposed site above the Long Island Rail Road yards at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues Ra tiler’s business is formidable Forest City Ratner which he established jm 1982 has built more than 6 million square feet of commercial and retail space’ much of it in once-neglected areas of the city The crownjewel of the company's holdings' which includes office buildings shopping centers and hotels is Metro-Tech Center a 16-acre Downtown Brooklyn office complex built where derelict buildings nry-o stood Today 24 million square feet at offices stand on -the site 18 million square f to questions before they are even “He does his homework” said Tide “When Bruce comes into a room he’s ready with everything” Adds Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz: “He’s completely focused He’s got an attitude of can do” One thing Ratner is not is a swashbuckler Media interviews are rare and in fact his spokeswoman Joyce Baumgarten said no declined to be interviewed fbr this article And said Tighe he’s diligent in how he invests “He’s very careful He doesn’t just spend other people’s Rattler's company is the New York City affiliate of Porast City Enterprises Inc a publicly traded - Cleveland-based real estate and lumber enterprise controlled by his family with holdings worth $5 billion Those who have worked with Ratner over the years describe the politically conr nected developer as a hard-charging highly focused visionary who has an- That doesn’t mean he wont seek Ratner who once worked at City Hall and who is a big political contributor knows how to tqp public funds for his prqjects He obtained (114 million in tax-exempt bonds that were designated fbr rebuilding New York after the attack on the World Trade Center for new Bank of New York offices in Brooklyn and he is seeking another $400 million of Liberty Bonds as the bonds are known fbr The New York Times’ plnnnnH 52-story tower on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st streets Supported in his bid for the Nets by New Jersey businessman and philanthropist Lewis Katz one of two principal Nets owners Ratner hasn’t said mow he’ll finance his purchase of the fawm or the building of a proposed $ 500-million arena above the Long Island Railroad yards The arena would be built next to New York City’s third-largest transportation hub which in addition to the LIRR is reached by nine subway lines and five bus lines-Ratner has developed substantial retail projects nearby and by next year he will have completed almost 900000 square feet of shops at Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal Tenants include Macy’s Target and Pathmark Ratner also is constructing a 396000-square-foot 10-story office building for Bank of New York and 5500 units of housing at the site Markowitz said Ratner is tuned into community opinion “He’s sensitive to the needs of the community in which his prqjects will go into” But some of his prqjects have engendered disappointment “He’s suffered from having raised people’s expectations” said one former Brooklyn official citing what he called the dreadful cinder-block construction of the shops the developer built opposite his Atlantic Terminal “They look as if they were lifted out of a suburban parking lot by helicopter and dropped into one of the busiest intersections in the city” said the ex-official “The Atlantic Center itself is busy but it looks shoddy inside and out” Ratner’s political connections run long and deep Before joining Forest City Ratner a native of Cleveland who graduated with honors from Harvard University and then from Columbia University Law School served as commissioner of consumer affairs under Mayor Ed Koch Before joining Koch at City Hall Ratner taught fbr four years at New York University Law School and from 1970 to 1973 He was director of the Model Cities Program and head of the Consumer Protection Division in the John Lindsay administration He has helped bankroll campaigns for former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former President Bill Clinton Reportedly’ Ratner and his wife Julie spent a night in the Clinton -White House in 1996 And while highly regarded fbr his civic spirit Ratner sparked controversy in the wake of the Sept 11 attack on the World Trade Center after he commissioned a bronze statue inspired by the now-famous photo of three firefighters raising a UA flag at Ground Zero Hie statue originally slated fbr display in front of Fire Department headquarters angered firefighters because it depicted one firefighter as white one as black and raw as Hispanic although the three in the original photo were white Plans for -the statue which would hove stood in front of the Fire Department’s headquarters at Metro-Tech were scrapped Besides MetroTech and the Atlantic Colter retail Rattler's ' holdings include the Embassy Suites Hotel at Bat tery Park City the Hilton Times Square retail sites in Harlem the Bronx Queens and the site of a proposed Lowe’s Home Center along the Gowanus Canal 1 “He sees value where others don't” said Tighe “MetroTech is something he invented Atlantic Terminal is something he invented” O

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