Leaders of the state (Gov. David Paterson), city (Mayor Mike Bloomberg), and borough (Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz) are expected; it will be interesting to see how many local elected officials and community board officials choose to attend.
Also present will be developer Bruce Ratner, naming rights purchaser Bob Diamond of Barclays Capital, and entertain Jay-Z, who owns a tiny slice of the team. Unmentioned in the press release is prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, scheduled to buy 80% of the team and 45% of the arena.
Is it that Prokhorov hasn't been officially approved as owner? Or is it that significant subsidies, tax breaks, and the use of eminent domain looks a little different when the beneficiary is Russia's richest man?
Note that the press release, in contrast to a recent news report, suggests that the first residential building will begin this year. Actually, that's just design work; construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2011 (despite a statement from FCR about breaking ground in December).
(Images of the arena interior, at right for basketball and below for concerts, via the Post.)
What exactly does the location 5th and Atlantic Avenues" mean?
It's unclear. But there likely will be a fence, and some sort of tent and/or stage--and enough security to keep out pesky protesters.
Will AYR be allowed in?
Note that only "officially credentialed press" will be allowed in, which can be used to keep out both self-appointed temporary journalists as well as yours truly.
I asked FCR spokesman Joe DePlasco and he said he'd check.
I'm not holding my breath. I wasn't allowed into the notorious Frank Gehry press conference in May 2006 but I was allowed into the January 2007 naming rights event, largely because I was covering it for the weekly Brooklyn Downtown Star.
But if it's a ban, it's a ridiculous one. They read my work. They know I know more about this project than the "officially credentialed journalists." They know that I'll likely cover the event in greater detail than afforded in print on on TV.
Sure, they generally ignore my questions, but when the Ridge Hill corruption case was announced in January, with Forest City Ratner involved but not indicted, DePlasco's firm sent me a press release so I could report FCR's statement.
If AYR was an important enough news outlet then, why isn't it now?
They know I'm likely to take a critical approach to the project and untangle misleading statements made by speakers. But they also know that I'll be careful; I'll be covering a public event, and any mistake or distortion is checkable and subject to correction or criticism.
This project has gained significant public subsidies and support. Shouldn't it be open to scrutiny?
The press release
BARCLAYS CENTER AND ATLANTIC YARDS
GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 2010
Ceremonial Groundbreaking to Celebrate the Next Phase of Construction
On Atlantic Yards and Sports and Entertainment Arena in Brooklyn
(BROOKLYN, NY) – March 8, 2010 – Governor David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, Barclays PLC President Robert E. Diamond, Jr., NETS investor and cultural icon Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment President and CEO Brett Yormark, among others, will be on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 5th and Atlantic Avenues in Brooklyn (12:30 PM press set up, 1:30 PM ceremony).
While work has been ongoing at the site since last fall, and with the temporary rail yard completed last December, the March 11 groundbreaking ceremony will mark the next phase of construction on the 18,000-seat world-class sports and entertainment arena. The Barclays Center will host more than 200 events annually, including professional and collegiate sports, concerts, family shows, NETS Basketball, and much more. The first phase of Atlantic Yards will also include three residential buildings, with the first starting later this year.
WHAT: Ceremonial groundbreaking for Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards.
WHO: Governor David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, Barclays PLC President Robert E. Diamond, Jr., NETS investor and cultural icon Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment President and CEO Brett Yormark, among others.
WHEN: Thursday, March 11, 2010. Ceremony to start at 1:30 PM.
Press setup at 12:30 PM. ONLY OFFICIAL CREDENTIALED PRESS WILL BE PROVIDED ACCESS.
WHERE: Intersection of 5th and Atlantic Avenues, Brooklyn