Thursday, June 04, 2009

Guess what: the Brooklyn arena, accommodating Ratner's short-term goal, would be too small to fit in hockey

Now that architect Frank Gehry is off the Atlantic Yards project, forget Gehry’s dream to design an arena that could accommodate not just basketball but hockey.

Value engineering, sources tell me, means scrapping Gehry’s design to make the building smaller, without space for professional hockey.

The Toronto-born Gehry, a hockey aficionado, spoke in January 2006 about the design challenges he faced: "[H]ow do you make it come alive for the game and solve the problem of identity for this basketball team and I hope someday a hockey team."

Too small for hockey

A professional hockey "ice pad" is 200' x 85'. A basketball court is just 94' x 50'. That's why arenas have fewer seats when hockey is played; for example, the capacity of the Prudential Center in Newark is 17,625 for hockey and 18,500 for basketball.

Shrinking the arena may certainly benefit Forest City Ratner in the short term; the developer's goal is to move the money-losing Nets from New Jersey and then, after the team is established, sell it at a profit.

But the failure to leave space, at least, for hockey means one potential source of additional tax revenues--and arena activity--would be precluded. So Ratner's decision might not benefit the city and state in the long-term.

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