Skip to main content

In Red Bull's magazine, Deron Williams visits Williamsburg, not quite the center of the Nets' demographic


At my dentist's office, I caught up with The Red Bulletin's November issue and A Team Grows in Brooklyn, a decent profile of Brooklyn Nets star guard Deron Williams, who's a Red Bull endorser (though he might be concerned about the injuries caused by Red Bull and other highly caffeinated so-called energy drinks.)

Author Robert Anasi, he of the Williamsburg memoir The Last Bohemia, writes well, but offers some cliche:
Since voting to join with the other four boroughs in one New York City in 1894, Brooklyn hasn’t been able to catch a break. Never mind that on its own, its 2.5 million people would make it the fourth-largest city in the U.S.; Brooklyn still gets no respect. 
Not really. Ever heard of Très Brooklyn?

But at least Anasi recognizes the diversity of fandom--and of Brooklyn:
Williams and his teammates aren’t alone in the tough decisions the geographical shift has forced them to make. Generations of Brooklynites have now grown up with only one team to root for in the New York area. And the locals, at least those at McLaughlin Park, were Knicks fans to a man.
When I asked if they could see themselves rooting for the Nets, they paused. “The stadium is four blocks from my house,” one said. “I’ll be there for opening night.” Another said, “They’re going to be a Brooklyn team and I’m from Brooklyn, so…” When I told them Williams would be arriving in minutes, they morphed into fans. “You think I could get a picture with him?”
The best line came from an older white guy on the park maintenance staff, in his official forest-green park uniform. “I’m a Knicks fan,” he said. “So it will take a while. But if they win…”
Not winning Williamsburg

Anasi points out that the team has sold lots of tickets and gear, but not everyone's on board:
“I already told you,” the manager says as he comes out of the shop. “You can’t film out here.” Our caravan has landed in South Williamsburg, and the production team has Williams posing in front of Marlow & Daughters, a boutique butcher on Broadway. Marlow’s is not your granddad’s chop shop -- the men and women wearing blood-smeared aprons have college degrees and play in indie bands.
We’re at the outer verge of hipsterland, an outpost of the gentrification that has put Brooklyn into play, and indirectly made things like the Barclays Center possible. But Marlow & Daughters doesn’t see it that way. They have no interest in the magazine making props out of their retro storefront; future Nets fans are not Marlow’s customer base. When I went inside and bought a $6 bottle of Fuji apple juice (cold pressed and unfiltered), I told them that Deron Williams was outside.
“Who’s Deron Williams?” the woman behind the counter said.
“He’s the point guard for the Nets,” I said.
“The Nets,” she said. “That’s a sports team, right?”
As we wander down the street in search of a more welcoming locale, Hasidic men in shirtsleeves and suspenders barely give us a glance. Hasidic or hipster -- Williamsburg is not where the Nets are going to make converts. Their demographic is the blue-collar neighborhoods south and west, in Bensonhurst, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Flatbush -- the home of ethnic and working-class Brooklyn, not the Brooklyn that gets the Yelp buzz for fine dining and gallery openings.
And the 'burbs, too.

Winning new fans

Despite the slick new arena, Anasi, like Marty Markowitz, thinks they can win many fans tired of the Knicks:
If the Nets do it right, if they dive for the loose balls and take the charges, they can be the team of the 99 percent against a bunch of spoiled superstars in a Manhattan that has turned into a gated community.
“People are proud of being from Brooklyn,” Williams says. “I don’t think we’re going to have a problem selling out the arena. Other people around the NBA are taking notice and want to see what this can be.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…