Monday, June 27, 2011

Dave Zirin in Slam: "residents see [Atlantic Yards] more like an exercise in ethnic cleansing" (um, that's a bit broad-brush)

In Sleep Till Brooklyn: Putting an NBA team in BK may not be a no-brainer business move., Edge of Sports columnist Dave Zirin (a DDDB advisory board member) writes:
My father was born and raised in Brooklyn. I grew up just across the bridge in Manhattan, but spent more time in Brooklyn than an agoraphobic hipster. I know Brooklyn and I know its wary relationship with the world of sports. This is a place that’s never quite gotten over Walter O’Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, abandoning Ebbets Field and Flatbush Avenue for Chavez Ravine and the movie stars of Los Angeles. Yet in the decades after the Dodgers betrayal, the area built its own sense of identity.

...The borough has become the new Manhattan: the place you can’t afford to live. It’s become a magnet for chain stores and fancy restaurants. Unlike Travolta’s Tony Manero, Brooklyn isn’t the place ambitious kids dream of leaving anymore. It’s where entitled college grads dream of moving to.

If you don’t understand this dynamic, then you can’t understand the dread felt by every last Brooklynite with whom I’ve spoken about the Nets’ impending move.... Despite promises by Ratner and his flacks that the project will create “an urban oasis” in the heart of Brooklyn, residents see it more like an exercise in ethnic cleansing—the ethnicity in question being people who are actually from Brooklyn. They see rising rents, shuttered local businesses, torn down homes, and a string of the chain restaurants that seem to circle all NBA arenas. They see it making continued residency impossible.
My comment:

Dave, Please don’t fall for the cliche that Brooklyn has not gotten over the loss of the Dodgers. As Michael D’Antonio points out in his book on O’Malley, in the 1960s, the NY Times editorialized that the wounds had healed, and Brooklyn even held a rally for the ’69 Mets. D’Antonio blames Roger Kahn’s “The Boys of Summer” for the wave of nostalgia. More here.

I think the reception will be mixed–there are certainly enough sports fans in Brooklyn and environs, and high-rollers buying luxury suites, to create a fan base. The sports media and local media will mostly sign on. And Jay-Z will draw rapturous crowds if, as expected, he opens the arena with a string of concerts. (Think Bon Jovi at the Pru in Newark, amped.)

That said, despite the adjacent transit hub, they’re still putting an arena (at southern and eastern edges) into a residential neighborhood. It’s a very tight fit, and those in charge haven’t figured out solutions for the inevitable problems (like a surface parking lot that will cause people to walk down very narrow residential sidewalks to the arena).

And there’s already a “rat tsunami.”

The problems caused by that tight fit aren’t going away, and likely will galvanize even more residents in the area close to the arena.

No comments:

Post a Comment