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Showing posts from April, 2009

The NBA money crunch, trading empty seats for advertising, and keeping Coach Frank

ESPN columnist Bill Simmons thinks that the NBA's fiscal troubles, about which he's written already, are becoming ever more apparent:
Q: What was the defining No Benjamins Association moment of Round 1?

A: The Pistons e-mailing Cleveland season-ticket holders before Game 3 and offering them deals on tickets for Games 3 and 4 in Detroit. When teams are ENCOURAGING opposing fans to come to playoff games, we are headed for financial disaster. And we are. Nobody believes me. There will be a lockout in 2011.

Advertising instead of fans

Facing the recognition that they're not about to fill the aging Izod Center, especially while promising a ever-long goodbye in favor of Brooklyn, the Nets now plan "sky banners" to display advertising in the four corners of the arena.

Sports Business Journal gave it a positive spin:
The New Jersey Nets have created new advertising space in the far reaches of the Izod Center seating bowl, and team officials think it could generate an additi…

In debate about the future of news, AY and AYR become a case study

In the UK's Prospect magazine, the cover story, an epistolary debate between author (and Outside.in founder) Steven Johnson and Princeton professor of communications and public affairs Paul Starr, is headlined Will the coming age of news be better than the old?

Interestingly enough, both the optimistic Johnson and pessimistic Starr cite Atlantic Yards and AYR to buttress their arguments.
I think that any discussion of the media ecology around Atlantic Yards needs several explanatory footnotes, which I offer below, but I believe that the volunteer media response to Atlantic Yards is an unusual phenomenon, not easily duplicable, which places me much closer to Starr's camp.

Someone has to do the work of journalism--reading documents, showing up at meetings, asking questions, making analytical connections over a period of time--and it's not easy.

Background articles

Johnson's piece in Prospect draws on his recent speech titled Old Growth Media and the Future of News, and foll…

In discussion about Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, history, transition, gentrification, and, yes, Atlantic Yards

It’s hard to do justice to the sometimes compelling, sometimes disjointed, wide-ranging panel discussion concerning Fort Greene and Clinton Hilll presented last night by the New York Times’s blog The Local at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Dweck Center at Grand Army Plaza.

But the session, titled “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” did touch on the important and sometimes fraught intersections of neighborhood transition, development pressure, and race/class relations. (Of the panelists, two were black and two were white.)
And, despite some overlong monologues (from both panel and audience) or off-topic questions, it left people longing for more, for the messy humanity of in-person dialogue, in contrast with often-anonymous online interaction. (More from The Local, source of Nicole Nelch's pic.)

An audience of about 135, racially mixed though predominantly white, attended the event, and moderator Andy Newman of The Local said that, for a future event, he’d look to a space within the tw…

Second thoughts from a former state official; could Times Square have been reclaimed without eminent domain?

The recently transformed Times Square area is a poster child proffered by city officials like Mayor Mike Bloomberg in defending the use of eminent domain. But what if eminent domain really didn’t work?

Consider the analysis by William Stern, former CEO (1983-85) of the state Urban Development Corporation (UDC), precursor (and formal name) of the Empire State Development Corporation.
Largely reprising an Autumn 1999 article he wrote in the conservative Manhattan Institute’s City Journal) headlined The Unexpected Lessons of Times Square’s Comeback, Stern offers a report for the libertarian Institute of Justice titled The Truth About Times Square
His argument: government should have eschewed eminent domain and gotten out of the way.

Eminent domain opponents like DDDB naturally seized on it. But Stern's argument is worth a closer look, since some other close observers--a critic of eminent domain, Julia Vitullo-Martin, and a scholar who studied Times Square, Lynne Sagalyn--have come to d…

Finance Commissioner Stark resigns, but the Yankee Stadium issue is ignored

New York City Department of Finance Commissioner Martha Stark has resigned, in the wake of questions about conflict of interest and concerns about her significant outside income.

There's a brief mayoral statement. But none of the coverage so far--see, for example, the Times, Daily News, and Crain's--raises any questions about what may be the most significant cloud over Stark and her former subordinate (and current consort) Dara Ottley-Brown: their role in the swift and curious reassessment of the Yankee Stadium site.

Lessons from Times Square redevelopment: even after legislative approval, financial accountability is needed

(This is one in an irregular series of articles about issues that a State Senate committee might address when it holds a hearing on Atlantic Yards.)

City Hall has published a partial transcript of the April 8 Q&A with Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) CEO Marisa Lago. I already reported Lago's acknowledgment that the project would take "decades," and her equanimity regarding an attenuated time line.

I also reported Lago's statement about the aggressive governmental commitment to the project, but the full quote is worth a look: "I think the important thing is the commitment that the government has, that the city/state government has in working with Forest City to drive the project forward."

But what does that commitment mean? Could it mean additional direct subsidies, tax breaks, or indirect subsidies? And, though no real cost-benefit analysis was conducted by the state, isn't one in order, drawing on new data?

Lessons from Times Square

I took a…

Waiting for the judges to rule in both major AY cases (and watching Forest City Ratner repeat a discredited lie)

Within a matter of weeks, if not sooner, two important but not final rulings should emerge from two departments of the Appellate Division of the New York State court system. The cases challenge eminent domain and the Atlantic Yards environmental review.

Should the defendants, predominantly the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), prevail, that would suggest further momentum for the wounded Atlantic Yards project.

Other obstacles
Still, even victories in court may not affect the financial obstacles facing the Atlantic Yards arena, for which tax-exempt bonds must be issued by the end of December, unless the Internal Revenue Service extends a deadline.

Indeed, while Forest City Ratner, in legal papers regarding the second case, asserted that the project would have important public benefits (and maintained a previously-discredited lie that AY would bring $4.4 billion in new tax revenue), a lawyer for the appellants responded that the “supposed public benefits” are “grossly overstated,…