Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The gingerbread arena and the hidden subsidies and tax breaks behind it

Photo via Brownstoner
Well, there's a homey, gingerbread version of the Barclays Center, created by the Joyce Bakeshop in Prospect Heights. (They've done lots of seasonal orders, including the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch.)

Then again, Michael D.D. White writes, in his Noticing New York seasonal article:
What is the glamorous glitter worth when Barbra Streisand plays Ratner’s arena but the public is highly subsidizing her performances to the turn of perhaps $700,000?  That is just the Grinch giving back what was the community’s in the first place.  It is actually worse because when the Grinch gave back the stolen presents he gave back everything totally and freely, relinquishing all claim.  When Ratner invites people into the “Barclays” Center he is like Mr. Potter, charging $4.50 for water that would have been free with the music at Freddy’s Bar, just one of the parts of the neighborhood removed as part of Ratner’s taking spree.  In the end the glitter of how much richer Ratner has become is, like in all the other traditional tales of the season, just a measure and metaphor for the off-screen impoverishment of the community. 
Of course, Borough President Marty Markowitz would contend it's the other way around, that visitors are spending money not just in the arena but in Brooklyn establishments near and far. And surely White's calculations can be debated.

But the fact is: people "see" the arena, and the events there. They don't see the tax breaks and the subsidies behind it all.

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