Saturday, September 15, 2012

Brooklyn Rail's Hamm: an eyesore arena named for a crooked bank, but "I’m trying to figure out how to come to terms with it" (and the logos are "pretty cool")

From Ted Hamm's CityNotes column in The Brooklyn Rail's September 2012 issue, This Is It?:
It was a hot afternoon in July when I first felt the sting. As I approached my destination on the D train, the conductor announced the stop’s new name, “Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center.” And sure enough, when I got off, the new signs on the platform were there to greet me. With little fanfare, a crooked bank had made its imprint on the most central subway stop in Brooklyn. Ouch.
The sensory impact of Barclays is just a bit larger above ground, of course. The choice of baby blue for the enormous sign on the new arena merely adds injury to the insulting use of rusty beams. In an unintentionally satirical piece in the Times, Elizabeth Harris managed to find a few admirers of the prematurely decayed aesthetic. Meanwhile, over the summer I asked at least a couple dozen folks to share their views regarding the new arena’s exterior. Rest assured that they unanimously offered variations on the immortal words of Ignatius J. Reilly: the design is indeed “a most egregious offense against taste and decency.”
Another Ratner eyesore has thus grown in Brooklyn. We don’t need Nostradamus to tell us that traffic and parking will be a nightmare, or that if everyone miraculously does take public transportation, the Atlantic Terminal and adjoining subway station will be complete chaos for the many thousands of people just going about their business. Coney Island was once seen as the preferred site for the arena by Marty Markowitz and many planners, and to this day Coney needs a year-round draw. If the Barclays Center turns downtown into a perpetual cluster-you-know-what, many folks will be longing for the road not taken.
Still and yet, I am conflicted. The arena ain’t going nowhere in the near future. My tax dollars and yours went into building it, so I’m trying to figure out how to come to terms with it. And though I’m not a Nets fan, I must admit that I find the black-and-white team logos and gear to be pretty cool. At the risk of sounding too bipartisan, I can thus understand why many folks are excited, and others dismayed, about the arena. I’m just hoping that everyone gets out of my way when I’m trying to get home.
Sure, I understand why many folks are excited, too. And I suspect that those using the arena will like it--well, at least when they get the kinks worked out.

At the same time, I also suspect that a good number of neighbors previously un-roused by the project will, by necessity, become more civically active.

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