Thursday, February 04, 2010

Another look at the arena as site for graduations

Would the Atlantic Yards arena be a site for high school and college graduations, as was once promised? Maybe, but there's reason for doubt:
  • the arena itself would be too big and expensive
  • the theater inside the arena isn't being promoted for graduations
  • new, city-financed competition is emerging
The KPMG report

First, the KPMG report for the Empire State Development Corporation issued in December 2006 cautioned that the base rental rate for other events (e.g., graduations) of $62,000 plus the estimated $41,000 in event-related expenses appears to be high. Although these rates could change subject to actual negotiation with prospective users, it is likely that these rates need to be further reduced to accommodate various civic groups that cannot afford "market" rental rates, particularly given the competitiveness of the market.
(Emphasis added)

Forest City Ratner later said those numbers were overblown, but if there's a less costly alternative, it would more likely be used.

The theater inside the arena

Not unlike Madison Square Garden, with its 5600-seat capacity theater, the Barclays Center is slated to have a Cushman & Wakefield Theater, with a capacity of 3500-6000 seats.

It is being billed as the home for "theatrical performances, small venue concert artists, music festivals, boxing events and comedy acts."

Graduations go unmentioned, through surely a theater would be a less costly and more intimate alternative to the arena.

Enter the Loew's Kings

As explained to the New York Times on Tuesday, and by Borough President Marty Markowitz in his State of the Borough Address last night, the city has committed $50 million, plus $15 million in tax credits, to the renovation of the grand but decrepit Loew's Kings Theater in Flatbush.

The theater has 3200 seats, about one-third more than Brooklyn College's Whitman Center, capacity 2450, which currently hosts many Brooklyn high schools.

So presumably more high schools, and some of the smaller colleges, could fit into the Loew's Kings. And presumably the large amount of city money could ensure that the cost was reasonable.

How many left for the Barclays Center?

Assuming that the Barclays Center gets built--and that's likely but still uncertain--that raises a question. How many high schools and colleges in Brooklyn have crowds exceeding 3200 for their graduation ceremonies?

Surely there are several.

The next question is: how much would it cost at the Barclays Center, and how does it compare to current arrangements?

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