Monday, November 05, 2012

Times Sports columnist interviews arena GM, concludes "Packing Brooklyn’s Arena and Packing Away Discord "

In a column today headlined Packing Packing Brooklyn’s Arena and Packing Away Discord (but, curiously enough, originally headlined online "in-packed-opener-at-barclays-center-controversy-is-absent"), New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden visits Barclays Center General Manager David Anderson and declares all is well, albeit posing one microscopically challenging question at the end:
But will the Nets ever be good enough to pull Spike Lee away from his beloved Knicks and back to his Brooklyn roots?
There's mention of the postponement of the heavily promoted opener against the New York Knicks, but nothing about how Nets CEO Brett Yormark aggressively justified it, then reversed himself.

Vague mixed emotions

Rhoden quotes Nets coach Avery Johnson and a fervent Nets fan, plus a friend of the latter, who expressed more mixed emotions:
Silverstein’s friend Tim Stettner said he accompanied Silverstein to the game out of friendship, not fandom. Stettner has lived in Brooklyn for eight years and followed the emotional and ultimately failed protests against the arena project.

“It’s a complicated issue,” he said. “A lot of people say the Nets have not lived up to a lot of their promises. But it’s here, so I’m trying to enjoy it, but it’s definitely a moral dilemma.”
And why might that be? Rhoden is vague, and Stettner is as close as the column gets to a skeptic. It's a rather skewed set of interviewees.

Mending fences?

Rhoden writes:
While the Nets revel in the magic of a new arena and laying down fresh roots, they acknowledge the many fences that must be mended. The arena is the anchor of a larger development initiative that still irks opponents of the project. Residential properties are planned to be built behind the arena.

“There are a lot of detractors with this building,” Anderson, the general manager, said. “A lot of people pushed back on this building, so everything we do is under a microscope.”

He still sees protesters standing across the street from the arena. But all of the protests and emotion were no match for money and power. Still, as Anderson noted, Barclays Center has presented significant employment opportunities, albeit most of them part time.

“I’ve had this one guy, a pastor from a church, and I probably have 20 people who go to his church working here,” Anderson said.
And how does that compare to the promises made initially? Are the numbers used now honest? What about the people suing over promised full-time jobs and union cards?

Actually, people aren't "protesting" across the street. They're monitoring what's going on, including the periodic penetration of bass into the neighborhood and people's homes. Why not ask Anderson about that?

The GM's take

Rhoden writes about Anderson without pointing out that the original GM, John Sparks, left mysteriously, as did the arena's head of security, Bob Sena:
A native of Chicago, Anderson has extensive experience opening and operating arenas, including United Center in Chicago, Staples Center in Los Angeles and Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. He also ran the Olympic basketball arena in Beijing.

“This is the toughest building I’ve ever opened because of the dynamics,” he said. “It means so much to a lot of people. It took eight years to get built; it’s very controversial. You really have to double- and triple-check what you’re about to do before you do it.”
And have they done that? What about the bass? Whether trucks really are using the loading dock in a timed fashion, rather than idling in the streets? What about people flooding Atlantic Avenue after events, causing either a freeze of traffic or posing hazards to themselves and vehicles?

And what about those $15 tickets? Forget neighborhood protesters; fans in general should be alerted about the hype.

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