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Nets win delayed debut: claimed sellout, Brooklyn invocations, fan enthusiasm, neighborhood impacts less than at Streisand concerts

Photos by Tracy Collins
The Brooklyn Nets' delayed debut last night resulted in a victory over the Toronto Raptors, a reported (but dubious) sellout, and a general sense of fan satisfaction, including "Brook-lyn" chants--except, of course, for the mascot.

And there's a general wave of pride, as the sports world reminds us. "A showpiece," the Brooklyn-born grandfather of RealGM's Jarrod Rudolph tells the writer, from afar. "That building is a showpiece! An absolute thing of beauty."

Outside the arena, as far as I could tell, the impact of crowds was less than at previous events, notably the Barbra Streisand concerts, with the number of idling and honking limos greatly reduced--though not gone, as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch. (I'd reserve a full conclusion til others report in.) It looks like the word did spread that anti-idling measures would be enforced.

(At left, the back of the New York Post.)

What was most notable about my visits to Atlantic Avenue and Dean Street after the game was the dangerous crossing many people made of Atlantic, which was not closed off as with some events, to get to shuttle buses and other vehicles.

They need a crosswalk and/or light; otherwise, there's a disaster waiting to happen.

I didn't spend time on the arena plaza after the game or Pacific Street, which has been a hot spot for problems as eventgoers walk to the Fourth Avenue entrance to the D and R trains.

Around the arena

Last night, the Q train was not back, though others were, and the generally low post-Sandy car traffic reduced the likelihood of traffic jams.

Several shuttle buses to deliver people to Manhattan were used, and they drew people across Atlantic after the game.

The surface parking lot at the southeast block of the Atlantic Yards site looked at best one-third full, while the bicycle parking at the southeast corner of the arena block was less than one-quarter full. Still, at 85-plus bikes, that was the largest total ever.

Some violations persisted.

Despite "No Standing Anytime" signs on Dean Street opposite the arena, the curb was filled with vehicles that somehow get a pass, belonging either to emergency responders or those helping manage traffic, as far as I've seen in the past.

Dodgers redux?

Yes, there was an effort to connect the Brooklyn Nets of 2012 to the Brooklyn Dodgers of 1957. In fact, two Dodgers--but not the person with the most hallowed Dodgers connection--came to the game. The Daily News reported:
Sandy wiped out Brooklyn’s best-laid plans.
The sellout that the Nets hyped for weeks, the celebrity atmosphere, even a special ceremony involving Jay-Z and Jackie Robinson’s 90-year-old widow: scrapped.
No, Saturday night’s opening regular-season game at the Barclays Center didn’t have quite the buildup the Nets were getting before Thursday’s game was postponed. The big Hollywood moment seemed lost because it was two days later, transportation options were iffy, and they played an unsexy opponent, the Raptors. Many tickets were still available hours before tipoff, including $55 seats – even as the MTA restored subway lines running to the $1 billion arena.
...Rachel Robinson, who lives in Connecticut and was going to participate in a ceremonial passing of the torch to Jay-Z on Thursday, couldn’t make it to Saturday’s game.
The New York Post reported, in Nets game provides bright spot for reeling fans:
“Tonight the ghosts of Ebbets Field will be banished forever,” said Markowitz, referring to the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn for Los Angeles in 1957.
Two members of that Dodger team -- pitcher Ralph Branca and catcher Joe Pignatano -- were on hand to welcome the Nets to Brooklyn.
Note that, as seen in the subversive sticker someone appended to an arena directional sign, right, not everyone was on board with Markowitz.

A lift for the community?

The Times reported:
Even the most irrepressible cheerleader, the Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, acknowledged that the Nets’ season-opening game would not, and should not, unfurl as the party he had once hoped it would be, before the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy led to the postponement of Thursday’s game against the Knicks.
“You can’t just party away and ignore how many people are suffering,” Markowitz said. “How much sweeter it would have been if everyone in the borough were living the lives they were living before the storm.”
And so it was that the return of professional sports to Brooklyn, a moment more than a half-century in the making, arrived Saturday with something more than a thud and as something less than a celebration.
Still, fans appeared grateful for the distraction provided by the Nets’ 107-100 victory.
New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro:
Honestly? There wasn’t a lot to argue with last night. Prokhorov was Prokhorov beforehand, reminding everyone that he’s now three years away from having to fulfill his marriage vow if the Nets don’t win a title. David Stern was in the house, honoring “the resilience of the community” and welcoming “Brooklyn, USA to the NBA” and, thankfully, not summoning Katrina when he meant Sandy, as he did in Miami the other night.
Pignatano was there, and the great Ralph Branca, and somehow it didn’t look as silly as it should have when they wore tank tops with “BROOKLYN” over their dress shirts.
“Brooklyn,” Branca said, “is the best.”
Photo via Jason Shaltz

It always was, of course, which is why after 55 years there still is so much affection attached to those memories, those times, those athletes. And judging by the energy in the building last night, it still can be. On its own. Walking its own path. Creating its own legacy. Building its own history.

A sellout?

The AP (via New York Post) reported:
A sold-out crowd of 17,732 that included entertainers Jay-Z, a part-owner, and wife Beyonce chanted "Brooklyn! Brooklyn!" a few times during the game and loudly at the end, celebrating the name on the front of the shirt much more than the back

A bit of skepticism from Toronto

Toronto Star reporter Doug Smith's live blog cast a bit of non-homer skepticism on some of the proceedings:
Great, now some political doofus is delaying the start.
I see all kinds of empty private suites and rows of empty seats; they can't in good conscience call this a sellout; I understand entirely why it wouldn't be given the circumstances of this week, though
A few videos

VIP parking on Dean Street "pad" outside arena

Crossing Atlantic Avenue

Less idling at Atlantic and South Portland


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