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Barclays reaffirms commitment to AY arena; company head calls community "poor" and predicts 2011 season opening date

Barclays PLC President Bob Diamond tells Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi that, while delays on the planned Brooklyn arena for the Nets are "agonizing and frustrating," the banking company remains committed to the Barclays Center.

That's not surprising--Barclays wants its name around the media for branding purposes--but Politi apparently didn't ask if the naming rights deal, reported at $400 million over 20 years, had been renegotiated.

[Addendum] As noted in March and last November (when Barclays recommitted), the bank may have renegotiated the naming rights deal down. With and since that recommitment, there have been a couple of sweeteners: Barclays got a piece of the bond deal and a naming rights deal for the subway station bordering the arena site.

Under wraps for some

Notably, Diamond said he had seen the new arena design, via Ellerbe Becket and (apparently) an unnamed additional firm, and while less preferable than Frank Gehry's design(s), he was fine with it.

That means that, while the public hasn't had a chance to see designs or a site plan during the comment period (which ends Monday) on the Modified General Project Plan, the developer and its partners have seen them. More importantly, the New York Police Department hasn't yet had a chance to weigh in on security issues.

Unreliable statements

Diamond said, "we think it's the 2011 season that it'll be open." Well, maybe in the second half of the 2011-12 season, but I think the best-case scenario is a 2012 arena opening--and it's unlikely the team would move across state lines late in the season.

Politi reports:
"The original intent ... was branding," he said. "We wanted to continue to enhance the brand of Barclays and do something in New York, where the majority of our clients are. There were many opportunities when it came to naming rights, and what really tripped our trigger on this one was the recovery of Brooklyn and a community that was really quite poor. It not only fit our need to brand, but it fit the fact that we like to give back to the community."
(Emphasis added)

Which community exactly was "really quite poor"? The community that Forest City Ratner recruited via housing advocacy group ACORN?

Or the people living in and around what Chuck Ratner of parent Forest City Enterprises calls "a great piece of real estate" and where there have been numerous speculative market-rate condos built lately?

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