$130M Windfall in Store for Boss

George Steinbrenner stands to add more than $130 million to his coffers if a deal to merge the champion New York Yankees and the NBA New Jersey Nets comes together.

That would be Steinbrenner's share of an announced deal that would create a $1 billion YankeesNets holding company, a source familiar with the deal said yesterday.

With the Bronx Bombers valued at $600 million, the Nets would have to shell out some $225 million to become equal partners, under the plan.

And with the Boss holding nearly 60 percent interest in the Yankees, his personal share of the Nets windfall would be in the vicinity of $130 million-$135 million.

"Those numbers are in the ballpark," said the source, who insisted on anonymity.

YankeeNets would make the two teams partners in television rights, cable rights, marketing and advertising.

Analyst said the proposal is win-win for both franchises - but especially for George.

"This is George's best deal," said Brandon Steiner, president of Steiner Sports Marketing in Manhattan. "There are a lot of people tipping their caps to George on this one.

"The ace in the hole is the TV deal, and there are two wild cards: the Nets are underachievers and the Yankee name is second-to-none in sports - it has enough weight to carry another team in another league."

Everything, all parties agree, revolves around TV.

Talks between the Yankees and the Nets started after negotiations between Steinbrenner and Cablevision head honcho, Charles Dolan, collapsed in February reportedly because the very private Dolan was miffed at the very public statements attributed to Steinbrenner - that he would retain control of the team.

Steiner said YankeeNets can go in at least three TV directions - re-up with Cablevision using new leverage, join another existing programmer, or start its own network.

Yankee spokesman Howard Rubenstein said,"The lawyers are working diligently on it and we have no date set in terms of completion of the deal."

The Nets declined to comment.


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