Sunday, September 30, 2012

An explanation of that "monopolist" quote in the Times, and a missed opportunity for comments on last Sunday's big Times feature

The Metropolitan section of today's New York Times contains a selection of Reader Comments, relating to Ginia Bellafonte's column last Sunday on economic disparities.

There are no comments on the lead story, In Brooklyn, Bracing for Hurricane Barclays, because comments weren't enabled. Surely there would have been many, given the wide range of issues raised in the article--and, despite significant omissions, no small criticism.

More often than not, based on a look back to June, the Times has not enabled comments for the lead article in the Metropolitan section. So it wouldn't be fair to say they turned off comments regarding this story. But it still seems like a lost opportunity.

The Times's odd substitution

Also, following up on my critique of the Times's dramatic shift in content and tone regarding the Atlantic Yards opposition in the round-up article on the Barclays Center debut, Michael D.D. White adds, in his Noticing New York blog:
Maybe I should be flattered that, near the end of this section the Times chose to quote me. I was the one who said, “You can’t negotiate with a monopolist!” It was not all I said. When Markowitz stopped for what he evidently intended to be a pro-arena photo-op and hobnob with the press I was among those who intervened and I shouted the following:
  • Take the monopoly away from Ratner!
  • Take the mega-monopoly away from Ratner!
  • You can’t negotiate with a monopolist!
  • The “Barclays” LIBOR Center Pays no taxes!
I repeated these lines in rotation more than once. I think I know Borough President Markowitz well enough to know that if he thought he could have provided a credible response he would have tried one. Instead, he fled fast into the arena, flustered and apparently shaken.
For more, including further explication of his rationale, see his post.

Pacific Street becomes a staging area for buses related to arena

Before Barclays Center events, Pacific Street between Carlton and Sixth avenues becomes, as I've described, a staging area for police and fire personnel. (This has infuriated neighbors, as noted in the comment here.)

Around noon today, as described on Atlantic Yards Watch, buses stage and idled for more than an hour on the same block. Drivers said they were told to do so while waiting for a "Barclays sponsored kids event."

Second night of Barclays Center operations: no traffic jams, lots of cops, Atlantic Avenue overrun post-event (with NYPD coordination/dismay), idling vehicles proliferate nearby

Line at arena plaza, 8:22 pm
On the second night of Barclays Center operations, there were again no major traffic jams, thanks to the use of transit by arena-goers, a massive police presence, again little use of the surface parking lot, and copious pedestrian managers.

Also, it's likely that event-goers recognized that they need not converge on the arena by 8 pm, given that headliner Jay-Z wouldn't start for an hour.

(On opening night, the delay was about 90 minutes.) This was the second of eight sold-out concerts.

As shown in the photo above left, and in videos below, there were still long lines well after the official starting time of 8 pm.

 The lag likely was also caused by the security precautions, including use of metal detectors, but given the pleasant weather, people were generally calm.

Unlike on the first night, there was no major pre-event blockage of  the Atlantic Avenue sidewalk, given no red carpet for celebrities and attendant paparazzi.

Idling, Atlantic Avenue, 10:51 pm
A block party and area idling

For the second night, however, Atlantic Avenue was turned into a post-event block party, as concert-goers streamed into the street, given that the main Atlantic Avenue entrance is not coordinated with any crosswalk.

This was managed somewhat better by the police, who stopped traffic for about 12 minutes, as shown in a video below, though they still seemed frustrated.

S. Portland above Atlantic, 10:50 pm
Given the arena's tight fit, encroaching on several residential neighborhoods, residents nearby reported several episodes of limos and other vehicles idling improperly and blocking crosswalks.

For example, as reported on Atlantic Yards Watch, a white stretch limo parked in front of an apartment building at Sixth and St. Marks avenues in Park Slope, blocking the the crosswalk.

The driver, according to the report, said he wished there had been a limo parking lot as with the more suburban Meadowlands; his clients would pay.

Will police step up?

These issues are quite frustrating for neighbors but are, at least by the benchmark of pre-event worries, likely deemed by officials as secondary.

Post-event accident, Vanderbilt/St. Marks
Still, if police can manage to avoid traffic chaos, surely they could step up--as they have apparently not yet done fully--to deal with quality of life and health issues such as illegal idling, honking horns, and noisy (and drinking) pedestrians.

One resident said at least five SUVs and limos were parked on Dean Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues, mostly in front of a church, where's there's no parking, and others impeding the bus stop.

Police let it all slide, the resident reported.

Parking and biking

The generally young crowd profile for the Jay-Z concert likely was a good way to begin the series of Barclays Center events, since they'd be more likely to use transit--even, apparently, on a weekend evening like last night.

Post-event beer (it seems) in a cup
Older crowds, such as for Barbra Streisand, and families, such as attending family shows and Nets games, may be less likely to use transit--though we'll see how promotion works.

It's likely we'll see much more use of the surface parking lot, between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues and Dean and Pacific Streets. Last night it was perhaps 20 percent full; event capacity is 541 spaces.

There was significant use last night of the nearest parking lot, at the Newswalk building on Pacific Street east of the arena block.

I'd be interested to learn reports of the other parking lots. The shuttles to the remote parking lots, at least when I spotted them, didn't look too busy.
Surface parking lot, 8 pm

There were a handful of bikes parked at the bike racks at the southeast corner of the arena block: Dean Street and Sixth Avenue.

Atlantic Avenue: "This is not a street fair"

After the event, police seemed somewhat more prepared for pedestrians crossing Atlantic Avenue, stopping traffic going east and westbound for about 12 minutes after they streamed into the street.

They also gave up on the metal barriers aimed to block people from crossing over the median. The shutdown on Atlantic Avenue did not appear to cause major traffic problems, given the late hour, but it surely can't be managed post-event on a weekend afternoon.

Starting at about 11:05 pm, the 17-minute video below shows people going into the street at about three minutes in. At about 12 minutes, a police official on a bullhorn tries a bit fruitlessly to urge people to cross. "This is not a street fair," he declares. Shortly before the 15-minute mark, traffic starts flowing.

Videos describing events, in chronological order

FUREE held a march, ending the arena plaza, with red-jacketed arena staff gathered to form a cordial security cordon.

A look at the police posted at the plaza before the event, watching the protest.

The police and fire staging area on Pacific Street, just east of the center of the arena, including vehicles on the sidewalk.

At the parking lot officially requested for TV vans at the northeast corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, there are other vehicles parked there. Then a FDNY truck exits from its Dean Street firehouse and has a rather narrow turn.

At the Dean Street entrance just after the concert's official start, a large but not unruly crowd gathered. People were walking there from the plaza.

At the subway station, at 8:15 pm, the flow was light, but there was a plethora of police and MTA staffers.

On Dean Street, between Sixth and Flatbush avenues, there are several vehicles, most official, in the No Standing area.

On line outside Dean Street entrance, 8:50 pm.

At about 11:30, police gathered at the subway entrance, and a crowd of what seemed to be subway newbies massed at the vending machines and token booth to buy MetroCards and (presumably) get directions. But the overall crowd was not overwhelming at this point.

Busy but not crazy at Flatbush Avenue and Pacific Street, at about 11:40 pm.

At Atantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, outside Modell's

Two previous episodes

Also, as reported on Atlantic Yards Watch regarding the first concert, at 372 Bergen Street (between Fourth and Fifth Avenues) and across the street as well:
Two limousines idling while waiting for their clients to return from the Jay-Z concert. One was a Cadlillac sedan (License No: 5) and one a Cadillac Escalade. I asked a nearby officer on patrol if he could do something, but he said he did not "deal with stuff like that -- its more of a traffic thing."
Another reported regarding a bus idling on St. Marks Avenue between Flatbush and Carlton at about 9:30pm:
I called 911, not 311. The bus eventually moved on, after several neighbors came out to complain to him. It was an enormous concert bus with a trailer on the back, idling on a residential block. The driver was belligerent when we asked him to move. Only after several people called the police did he move.

Post finds outrage over Barclays Center roof laser targeting monument; arena operators say it's for one weekend (but don't apologize); evidence of another hit: Wyckoff Gardens

The New York Post follows up on my coverage yesterday of the Barclays Center roof laser targeting the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument by republishing the photos and finding (it wasn't too tough, I'd bet) Monumental outrage over Barclays beam

“Anything that distracts from that should not be allowed. You wouldn’t want to see a laser on the Vietnam Monument in Washington," Ruth Goldstein, founding chairwoman of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, told the newspaper. Council Member Letitia James wasn't pleased.

Arena operators, at least to the Post, weren't apologizing, explaining that the two lasers were just for the opening weekend “We received the proper permits from the FAA, and we are delighted to celebrate the opening of Barclays Center,” said spokesman Barry Baum.

Another target: Wyckoff Gardens

According to a Park Slope resident who sent me the photo below, the laser also hit the Wyckoff Gardens housing project in Gowanus: look for the green dots.

A Barclays Center moment and a BUILD connection

On Friday night, as I walked past the Barclays Center arena before it opened, I spotted a young man in a red jacket working one of the arena's doors.

We recognized each other: we'd spoken when I'd covered the graduation ceremony last November for a Customer Service Training class provided by Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD). I said hello, congratulated him, and wished him well.

I don't know how much that training class helped him get hired--he's a bright guy who'd stand out anyhow--but it surely didn't hurt; graduates of the classes were supposed to get a boost in hiring. (I don't know how many have been hired.)

I've written critically about BUILD's organizational troubles and also pointed out that the part-time arena jobs don't add up and are not going to provide careers. Put that aside for a moment; I was happy the guy had a job. And he seemed happy too.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

An open letter to the New York Times Public Editor: Why not retain both versions of Barclays Center opening coverage? (The changes were dramatic and dismissive)

Dear Ms. Sullivan,

On 9/13/12, in examining fast-moving Times coverage of Mitt Romney, in which the content shifted dramatically, you declared Both Versions of Romney Critique Should Have Remained on Web. You pointed to NewsDiffs, a tool cited by your predecessor Arthur Brisbane, that tracks changes in articles.

I believe you should come to the same judgment regarding the Times's coverage today of the opening of the Barclays Center arena, For Brooklyn’s New Arena, Day 1 Brings Hip-Hop Fans and Protests.

As the NewsDiffs page devoted to the article indicates, the article changed dramatically beginning at 8:53 pm last night.

As initially posted, the article focused on a press conference held by arena critics, later augmented by some "man in the street" counter-testimony in favor of the arena.

Ultimately, much of the press conference was overwritten in favor of description of the arena's debut event. It's understandable that the article would morph to emphasize the details of the Jay-Z concert opening promoted on the front page.

But not only was the main message of the press conference lost, the tone of the article changed.

Serious charges

For example, the original article stated:
The M.C. was Candace Carponter, a spokeswoman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, one of the groups representing residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. She called the arena “a monument to crony capitalism,” saying that “the vast majority of Brooklyn will not benefit” from the 22-acre, $4.9 billion project, which includes the arena and more than a dozen housing towers. She said that a commercial tower that was supposed to deliver the thousands of promised jobs had not been built and that only a few full-time jobs would result from the arena itself.
“Ratner has not fulfilled any of his promises, not a single one,” she said.
Kathleen Noriega told the assembled protesters that she once had been a supporter of Mr. Ratner’s project because he had promised hundreds of construction jobs through an apprenticeship program. But those in the program did not get training in construction, she said, but instead performed difficult demolition work for no pay. Ms. Noriega is involved in a lawsuit against Forest City Ratner.
...Umar Jordan, a community organizer from Bedford Stuyvesant who also once supported the project, addressed himself to Jay-Z and told him that he should have made the arena “affordable for young children who grew up in the projects like you did.”
“We’ve been robbed; Brooklyn’s been robbed,” he told the crowd. “I’ve seen people go to jail for less.”
None of that remained--not in print and not on the web. (Unmentioned by the Times was that Jordan was cited in the lead of a November 2006 Times article about the racial divide over the project.)

Also cut was this:
While the concert went on, there was a free screening of a documentary, “Battle For Brooklyn,” near the arena. The movie chronicles the long fight waged over the project, focusing on Daniel Goldstein, who was displaced from his apartment and has been the leader of the opposition.
A change in tone

Instead, readers of the final article read a rather whimsical, dismissive account:
Dozens of opponents staged protests throughout the day. At dusk, thousands arrived to see the show — to hear a superstar rapper who grew up in a Brooklyn housing project. Many wore T-shirts and caps that suggested the new arena’s role in invigorating pride in this borough.
Then there was Daphne Carr, 34, uncomfortably straddling two worlds. She slept outside the arena on Thursday night and held a sign: “Brooklyn Sold but We Ain’t Buying.” But unlike other protesters who have sworn never to enter the Barclays Center for an event, she acknowledged with a shrug that she was attending Jay-Z’s concert on Saturday. 
...The protests outside the center throughout Friday were, for the most part, modest in size and often included farce as a means of expression. They involved a news conference beneath the entrance canopy, sermons, bits of street theater and coordinated Twitter posts.
The demonstrators, some of whom slept on the street the night before, rarely numbered more than 50.
Several women, done up in outlandish wigs, rhinestone jewelry and garish sunglasses, wore sandwich boards that said: “Billionaires for Barclays. Who’s in Your Pocket?”
The activist performer Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping appeared in a white suit, white boots and clerical collar and lamented that “Bruce Ratner figures” are destroying neighborhoods around the world.
Why not two articles?

Given that the Times has unlimited space on the web, why not keep a version of the earlier article, under a different URL? That means the archive would contain two articles, at least.

Ultimately, readers are disserved when the newspaper downplays the seriousness of the opposition, especially the role at the press conference by two former fervent supporters of the project.

Moreover, the attempt to assess the number of demonstrators ignored that 150 people attended a vigil the night before and a similarly large number went to see the "Battle for Brooklyn" documentary.

Norman Oder
Atlantic Yards Report

Barclays Center’s Opening Is Met With Protests - NYTimes, 9/28/12 For Brooklyn’s New Arena, Day 1 Brings Hip-Hop Fans and Protests, NY Times, 9/29/12

Barclays Center debut: no traffic nightmare and empty (paid) parking spaces (on a work night), but still reasons for concern: narrow sidewalks mean paparazzi gridlock and later a flood of people blocking Atlantic Avenue

Traffic flowed fairly well outside at the Barclays Center debut with Jay-Z last night, and the event appeared relatively orderly, given the sold-out house, which drew a crowd wearing everything from flashy nightclub duds to Brooklyn Nets gear.

Though he'd been on many stages around the world, Jay-Z told the crowd, "Nothing feels like tonight, Brooklyn."

(While the fans I spoke to all said they enjoyed the show, and people chanted "Hova" as they left--and, of course, inside--I heard multiple secondhand reports, including this tweet, that said that Jay-Z's performance, actually, was subpar.)

"Welcome to the house that Bruce built" was flashed across the arena screen, as reported on Twitter; I countered that developer Bruce Ratner had a "wee bit" of government help.

Perhaps the most prominent disorder, according to reports on Twitter, was lots of pot-smoking inside the arena, as well as a wait, which lasted until about 8:45, just to get past security into the building.

 However, as some reported, the crowds after the event could get disruptive; see below.

Jay-Z's speech

Significant use of transit

The vigorous promotion of transit coupled with mostly pleasant weather and the generally young audience meant few drove automobiles--at least to paid parking. (Watch out when Streisand appears.) The surface parking lot in the southeast block of the Atlantic Yards site, in fact, was perhaps 20 percent full.

WNYC reported:
In the four hours before the show, the Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center Station saw turnstile exits increase by 6,754 people -- roughly one-third the Barclays Center capacity -- compared to the average of previous Fridays this September, according to a WNYC analysis of MTA data.
That's actually not as many as the 7600 or so trips predicted--albeit including two other subway stops, the G at Fulton and the C at Lafayette--between 5-6 pm and 7-8 pm in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

So, where were the rest? Some came after 8 pm. Others managed to park or get  dropped off. At about 7:30 pm, as shown in the video below, traffic flowed well on Atlantic Avenue.

And the commitment to making the Barclays Center debut work, as well as the numerous VIPs, meant a massive number of police, including white-shirted brass who surely will not be there every day. (Then again, there may be some more law enforcement inside.)

It also featured extra transit staff and extra trains, as well as numerous yellow-jacketed pedestrian monitors hired by the arena. (Those monitors are not a permanent feature, so it's not clear how long they'll be there.)

Gathering outside 78th Precinct, 6:10 pm
“I’m in a good mood because traffic is moving well. But this is what we expected, we have a plan in place and it’s working. I can’t ask for a better night,” Captain Michael Ameri of the 78th Precinct, which now is responsible for the arena, told Patch. “We dedicated a lot of planning with numerous city agencies like the MTA and DOT, with the FDNY and the community and it worked out exactly how we wanted.”

Some snags and reasons for concern

Well, not quite. Given that a lot of people took public transit because they came from work, the two weekend shows beginning tonight should feature more cars.

(Presumably arena planners and city officials will make adjustment; spotted walking around were several people from Sam Schwartz Engineering, the consultant working for the Barclays Center, including "Gridlock Sam" himself, as well as Chris Hrones of the Department of Transportation.)

Still, there were reasons for concern, some perhaps a product of the debut, others fixable, notably congestion on the Atlantic Avenue sidewalk.

After the event, various musicians played on the plaza, then also on Pacific Street across Flatbush in front of a bar, despite the presence (right) of a police eye-in-the-sky.

There were numerous boisterous people, a good number drunk. While the bars and restaurants on nearby blocks (like Flatbush Avenue and Fulton Street), didn't look busy before the event, some might do better afterward.

One WNYC commenter wrote:
I live a few blocks away and beeping horns, police sirens and yelling people persisted until at least 2am. There clearly was a traffic disruption.
(See coverage of the debut in the Daily News, Wide-eyed fans descend upon Brooklyn to christen Barclays Center for soldout Jay-Z show; the New York Times, For Brooklyn’s New Arena, Day 1 Brings Hip-Hop Fans and Protests; the New York Post, Jay-Z rap concert highlights Barclays Center's coming-out party; DNAinfo, Jay-Z Concert Opens Barclays Center for Brooklyn's 'Big Moment'; EW,
Jay-Z at Brooklyn's Barclays Center opening night: On the scene; Rolling Stone, Jay-Z Represents Brooklyn at First Barclays Center Show; NY Mag's Vulture, Jay-Z Makes History With Pretty Good First Show at Barclays Center; and MTV, Jay-Z Puts The Focus On Brooklyn At First Barclays Show.)

The Times captured the moment:
The crowd was growing fidgety as the lights finally dimmed at almost 9:45. A slide show recounted aspects of Brooklyn’s history, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the Beastie Boys, Ebbets Field and finally the Brooklyn Nets. Jay-Z took the stage in a white Nets hat and a black Nets jersey — No. 4, with “Carter,” his actual last name, across the back. Before a projection of city projects, he said, “Today is a celebration, a celebration of the place where I’m from. When I say, ‘Is Brooklyn in the house,’ I want to hear everybody. Is Brooklyn in the house?” The crowd roared.

Get More:
Jay-Z, Music News

In the Daily News, Jim Farber wrote:
On this night, Jay-Z’s well-known hit “We Run This Town” never felt more literal.

Here's NetsDaily's Net Income (aka Bob Windrem) reporting a message from a member of the Nets' front-office staff, a "basketball purist":
As Jay-Z was wrapping up, his Nets cap and Nets jersey matching the thousands in the audience wearing Nets black-and-white, he messaged us, "I'm starting to understand how big this is."
On the plaza

Below, some 90 minutes before the event began, there were still protestors. Later, the counter-activity moved to the Dean Street playground, where perhaps 125-150 people by my quick scan (organizers counted 250) watched the documentary Battle for Brooklyn. (Other coverage of the counter-events in the Observer and Patch.)

VIP area congestion

By 7:45 pm,  before the event began, a large crowd gathered near the VIP entrance on Atlantic Avenue, impeding foot traffic, waiting for celebrities such as Magic Johnson and current Nets players, many of whom attended.

One neighborhood resident nearby pointed out, with not illegitimate dismay, that if there had been a demonstration, the police would have made sure to clear the sidewalk.

Atlantic Avenue becomes block party

After the concert let out, a huge crowd spilled out along Atlantic Avenue, first into the lay-by lane, then, as police relented and removed barriers, into the street, stopping eastbound traffic for about  ten minutes. Note the calls for Nets player Jerry Stackhouse.

Given the time of night, about 11:45 pm, the amount of backed-up traffic ultimately wasn't huge. mBut this clearly can't be the solution on weekend afternoons.

Other traffic issues

Before the concert, the cops also kept traffic moving at some peril to pedestrians, several times waving traffic through red lights to maintain traffic flow.

Not only was the for-pay parking barely used, virtually no one used the newly-installed bicycle parking. Then again, the rain had threatened.

Delays on Dean Street

Major delays in getting ticketholders into the building--apparently because of the lengthy security process, involving metal detectors--sent a flood of event-goers from the main plaza around Flatbush Avenue toward the Dean Street entrance, filling the available space in front of it for some 25 minutes.

There's no residential tower next door, but such a crowd and a residence wouldn't mix.

(DNAinfo reported, "Some concertgoers Friday night were taken aback by the strong security presence, which included guards in military uniforms carrying assault rifles.")

Adjusting to the change

Indeed, nearly all the houses on Sixth Avenue between Bergen and Dean streets, just below the arena, were dark, a suggestion that their occupants decided to spend the night away. They can't do that every night, so surely they, and arena operators, hope the kinks get worked out.

(I spoke to the one resident standing guard; he was wary, but hopeful: he said he already had Nets season tickets.)

Subway escalator out

After midnight, with a crowd remaining at the plaza but most event-goers gone, I noticed that the down escalator was out. (It may have been down longer.)

But there was more than sufficient capacity on the stairs. Still, it's a new station, so escalators should work, right?

Vehicles on the street

There also were numerous black cars and other luxury vehicles idling, often in No Parking or No Standing zones near the arena and, I was told, in Fort Greene. Also taking advantage of such zones were official vehicles from the MTA and NYPD. I did see, however, a car blocking the bus stop on Dean Street opposite the arena get ticketed and towed.

One Prospect Heights resident commented on Atlantic Yards Watch regarding the corner of St. Marks Avenue and Carlton Avenue:
When I got home from work I noticed that there were two Hot 97 vans parked on my corner. They had NYP license plates and were taking up two parking spots. As a result it took my family, with a small child, as extra ten minutes to find a parking spot. I did not report to 311 because didn't realize it was illegal, just thought it was a nuisance. I have the license plates of the vans if anyone is interested in them.

Below, vehicles, most if not all private cars for police officers, are parked on the east side of Sixth Avenue from Bergen Street (home of the 78th Precinct) nearly to Dean Street (catercorner to the arena).

Below, media vans gather on Fort Greene Place, the private street owned by Forest City Ratner between its Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls. A pedestrian manager is below left. Note the sign directing people to walk above-ground to the Long Island Rail Road.

Below, a limo idles on Dean Street opposite the arena, in a No Standing zone.

Below, an MTA vehicle parked in a No Parking zone on South Portland Avenue just north of Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene.

An after-party

One Atlantic Avenue bar operator, the Social Butterfly, was welcoming patrons to an after-party.

Bus layover area

At Vanderbilt and Park avenues, the bus layover area.

Some trash on the street

Arena-goers (presumably) left some trash on newspaper boxes on the east side of Fourth Avenue between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue.

The Times finally figures out how the Barclays Center fills up the arena block

Check out the image at right of the Barclays Center arena and arena block, from this interactive graphic published Sept. 28 in the New York Times.

It was created with the help of the arena architects, and it seems quite accurate, though it doesn't explain that the four plots of land around the arena are supposed to be home to four towers, three of them residential.

What's wrong with the oval?

Then consider image below left, from a 4/17/12 article, which misleadingly suggested that the arena extends barely halfway between Fifth and Sixth avenues, rather than quite close to Sixth.

Similarly, it suggested that the arena extends south from Atlantic Avenue barely past the halfway point, Pacific Street, rather than nearly to Dean Street.

As I reported last month, I took a look back at the article and saw, to my surprise, that a new map had been substituted, which omits the misleading outline of the arena. No correction was posted.

Such a stealth adjustment is called "rowback," which former Times which former Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent described in his 3/14/04 column as "a way that a newspaper can cover its butt without admitting it was ever exposed."

In other words, it's a correction without formally acknowledging a correction.

Activists bring anti-gun violence message to sidewalk outside Barclays Center

An interview with Karim Johnson of ManUp Inc./Don't Shoot NYC, which brought several dozen people Friday night to Atlantic Avenue outside the Barclays Center arena before it opened to call attention to their anti-gun violence campaign in hardscrabble neighborhoods like East New York.

What's their message? "We don't want any more shootings or killings... This is the grand opening... [Jay-Z] and his business partners are here, making people consumers and not putting back in the community. We're not against them making money; we're not against Jay-Z or the developers of the Barclays Center, but we want to bring notice to the plight that's going on with the gun violence in our neighborhood."

He said that in better-off areas, people "make assumptions that gun violence does not affect them."

Does rap music glorify violence?

"I'm from the hip hop generation," he responded. "Rap music does not encourage violence. It does not encourage the systematic problems that bring forth this violence. Rap music is a culture, hip-hop is culture, but it's not necessarily the reason why these kids are outside in the street killing each other. .. we're not against the rappers, or the developers of the Barclays Center. We want to them to at least acknowledge us, and let them know that there's something can be done. It may not have to be monetarily, but it can be some kind of support. They have to understand that we are losing lives, unnecessarily, in the street. If you can come establish a business in Downtown Brooklyn, then you can come into the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and help us fight this problem."

The Times embraces (not quite) the Culture of Cheating concept

The New York Times is edging closer to acknowledging the Culture of Cheating, though I don't think they'll ever get there.

From today's New York Times, For Brooklyn’s New Arena, Day 1 Brings Hip-Hop Fans and Protests:
Yet none of the other buildings have risen, and many concerns persist about them and the levers used along the way by Mr. Ratner and his Forest City Ratner Companies.
From the Sept. 27 New York Times, Nets Helped Clear Path for Builder in Brooklyn:
His willingness to change plans — abandoning an expensive Frank Gehry design and building a smaller railyard — solidified his reputation for promising anything to get a deal, only to renegotiate relentlessly for more favorable terms.

The Barclays Center lasers, over the arena, and pointed at Fort Greene Park (and the Martyrs Monument)

No one was told about the Barclays Center logo on top of the arena, and we weren't told about the plans for lasers. (The design guidelines never mentioned it, because there was supposed a green roof on the arena.)

Below is video of the arena around midnight last night, after the debut Jay-Z concert had mostly emptied out.

Laser aimed at Martyrs Monument?

In the photos below, sent to me by a Fort Greene resident in a high-rise, the green ray of the laser seems aimed directly at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park, which honors heroes of the Revolutionary War.

The direct hit surely wasn't the intention, but there can be unintended consequences when there's no disclosure. Not to mention that it won't be so easy to aim those lasers when there are towers around the arena.

Another video

Friday, September 28, 2012

In Times coverage of protests, Ratner's flack gets to blame opponents for delays; newspaper forgets description of Ratner as "renegotiat[ing] relentlessly for more favorable terms"

From today's New York Times, In Brooklyn, Arena’s Opening Is Met With Protests:
There’s a certain irony to the fact that many of the people who sued to stop the project are now saying we haven’t delivered the promises fast enough,” [Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco] said. “We are 100 percent committed to the affordable housing, jobs and other benefits of Atlantic Yards and welcome those who were against them at the start to work with us to achieve them going forward.”
Well, there is, and there isn't. Yes, there's an irony that people who opposed the project are the ones who have to point out the unfulfilled promises; that should be the job of the signatories of the Community Benefits Agreement.

And yes, there's a question as to whether the challenges to the project kept some of the benefits from being delivered. But the larger irony, unmentioned, is that Forest City Ratner originally promised the project would be built in ten years, then renegotiated to 25 years.

In other words, the Times writer should have quoted the article he co-authored yesterday about Bruce Ratner, which cited "his reputation for promising anything to get a deal, only to renegotiate relentlessly for more favorable terms."

New sign at arena plaza: "Welcome to Brooklyn"

Photo by AYInfoNYC

Under Barclays Center oculus, groups challenging Atlantic Yards call for reform, joined by Occupy and two who "drank Ratner's Kool-Aid" but changed their minds

Five groups challenging the Atlantic Yards project, bolstered by some Occupy Wall Street participants and two former project supporters, held a press conference this morning on the Barclays Center plaza, moving under the oculus (which dripped somewhat) to get out of the rain.

"Welcome to the tale of two Brooklyns," said Candace Carponter of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, leading off the event and citing the arena as an example of "crony capitalism." The groups' goals include a plan that prioritizes "the creation of housing affordable to working families in Brooklyn" (for which, however, Ratner's modular plan may be billed as a solution) and to reform project oversight.

"Many Brooklynites may attend events here," Carponter declared, but profits will be reaped by the developer Forest City Ratner and the retail chains. She didn't mention Mikhail Prokhorov, majority owner of the Nets and 45% owner of the arena.

(Videos by Jonathan Barkey.)

Drinking "Ratner's Kool-Aid"

Carponter introduced two people she described as having drunk "Ratner's Kool-Aid," including "my friend" Kathleen Noreiga, who demonstrated for the project as a supporter of BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), the controversial job-development organization.

Noreiga (video start)  is one of seven people (of 36) who went through BUILD's highly competitive 15-week, pre-apprenticeship training program lawsuit and filed suit last November regarding what they say were guaranteed jobs and union cards at the arena.

"Instead of providing us with jobs and training, we were made to do heavy labor, including demolition and debris removal, at a private house in Staten Island for our instructor's private company," she said. The seven plaintiffs have sued for payment for their unpaid training.

A message to Jay-Z from a Marcy neighbor

Umar Jordan, he of the dramatic August 2006 pro-project testimony (and New York Times prominence)--"If you haven't been to the Marcy Projects, you haven't been to Brooklyn"--was introduced by Carponter as having "since determined that Brooklyn has been played."

Jordan was forceful but brief: "I need you to call the polcie and tell them that we've been robbed. Brooklyn's been robbed. This is not a personal attack on you, Jay-Z. We've been robbed, and I've seen people go to jail for less."

"Jay, you know where to find me at: anywhere in the hood from Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, East New York, you know where to come see me at," Jordan said. "We need to find a way to make it affordable for the young children who grew up in the project like you did, Jay, to be able to come here to see a game."

The next speaker was an advocate from the Fifth Avenue Committee.

Affordable housing

Deb Howard of the Pratt Area Community Council talks about Ratner's "bait and switch" regarding affordable housing, noting that of the 180 "supposedly affordable" units in the first building, many units would be not affordable to the neighborhood.

"What we need are two- and three-bedroom units that are affordable to those making between 60 and 80 percent of AMI [Area Median Income]," she said, while most units would be studios and one-bedroom units. (For more, see my story for City Limits' Brooklyn Bureau.)

Ron Shiffman, founder of the Pratt Center for Community Development (and a DDDB board member), said that there's a cap on tax-exempt bonds and subsidies, which means the scarace resource is being directed toward more expensive units rather than being built by community-based organizations.

Meanwhile, ACORN--with whom he worked closely in the past--has gotten a housing deal that does little for many of its members. He urged that the state approve a version of the UNITY plan that is "truly affordable," requiring more from the developer.  "This building belongs to us; let's take it back."

Goldstein: arena a "gentrifying machine"

Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn says the space people are standing on was his home, other private property, and public streets. "Eminent domain is not just about people's homes and businesses," he said. "It's about public space being turned into private space."

While Atlantic Yards was billed as stemming gentrification, he said, "this arena is a gentrifying machine," he said, as landlords raise commercial rents to get higher returns.

Occupy Wall Street's Guitarmy

A performer in Occupy Wall Street's Guitarmy, introduced as Matthew, went up to the mike.

"Our entire movement is based on social justice and fighting the forces of income inequality," said Matthew, citing not only Forest City Ratner, but also Barclays. "It's a damn shame they're here in Brooklyn," he said, adding they should be in a courtroom, not a basketball court.

The press release (from DDDB):
On the day of the opening of Barclays Center, a coalition of community organizations today joined in a protest of Atlantic Yards' failure to deliver on the promises of local jobs and affordable housing used to win approval for the $5 billion project, and called on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State of New York to present a new plan for the site that prioritizes public benefits over the development of luxury housing.

BrooklynSpeaks, Brown Community Development Corporation, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) and the Fifth Avenue Committee were joined by numerous civic groups and block associations in demanding that the State:
  • Conduct a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS), as ordered by the State Supreme Court, that is a timely, transparent, truly impartial study of alternatives to the current Atlantic Yards plan, and which includes meaningful measures to mitigate the project's negative impacts.
  • Adopt a new plan that prioritizes the creation of housing affordable to working families in Brooklyn.
  • Bring in other developers to reduce project risk, create more living wage jobs, and accelerate delivery of public benefits.
  • Reform project oversight to represent the people of Brooklyn in decision-making on a continuing basis so that Atlantic Yards' promises to the public are kept.
  • Change State regulations under which development projects are approved to ensure local communities are guaranteed input—and local elected officials are guaranteed a vote—before public subsidies are granted.
At close, Occupy Guitarmy sings "Which Side Are You On?"

As 40/40 Club opens the night before arena debuts, a vigil and march draws 150 people, James, Montgomery

Michael D.D. White, in the photo at right, captures an image from the vigil last night that drew about 150 people to gather outside the Barclays Center and then circle it twice in fairly quiet protest. Inside Jay-Z's 40/40 Club was opening for a private, pre-arena-opening party, as detailed in the New York Post video at bottom.

White's photo captures the "Boondoggle Basics" flyer given out by protesting groups (more events today and tomorrow; rain venue 669 Atlantic Avenue, corner of S. Portland Avenue) framed by the digital advertising in the arena oculus for the 40/40 Club.

The main sponsors are Brown Community Development Corporation, BrooklynSpeaks, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), the Fifth Avenue Committee, and Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), which took different postures on Atlantic Yards before it passed, with only DDDB going to court to try to block the project.

Since then, for example, DDDB and BrooklynSpeaks were joined in a successful lawsuit challenging the inadequacy of the environmental review, given that 2009 deal revisions gave developer Forest City Ratner 25 years to build the project. A Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) has been ordered but has not yet begun.

Updated: Perhaps two dozen people came from Occupy Wall Street; they slept overnight on the Flatbush Avenue side of the arena, next to some of the shops, shielded from any rain.

Below are several more videos, most of them brief, that I shot.

The signage in the oculus

The Barclays Center plaza

Before the vigil, at 7 pm, cops gathered at the plaza, while those participating in the vigil gathered across the street

Gathering on Flatbush before vigil, at Bear's Garden

At the plaza

Leading off: the Rev. Dyson

The Rev. David Dyson, former pastor of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, cites "all the people who have been hurt by this project," including families who lost their homes, didn't get good paying jobs, and a "city in need of accountable development."

"Even now, as the arena opens up, we are told that the benefits are coming," he said, citing the promises of "Jobs, Housing and Hoops.")

(At about 1:08, note the presence of Forest City Ratner's designated lurker.)

Apparently relying on Council Member Letitia James's conflation of an elderly decades-long resident who wanted to die in her home (and who did, given the length of the process) and another elderly woman who had a small business in the footprint and was shaken by the threat of eminent domain, Dyson unfortunately maintained the myth: "I always remember remain that 89-year-old woman, Holocaust survivor, who wanted nothing more to die in her home."

(I checked this with Patti Hagan, who did the earliest census on those in the footprint.)

The Rev. Miller & Sen. Montgomery

The Rev. Clinton Miller of Brown Memorial Baptist Church declared, "A part of the soul of Brooklyn has been lost because games have been played, and bad deal have been made."

Barclays, he said, financed the Holocaust, apartheid, and the slave trade. (It's a bit more nuanced: the New York Times reported that many banks were enveloped in the slave trade; Barclays withdrew from South Africa only in 1986, decades after activists called for divestment. Barclays collaborated with the Nazis, according to this report, and paid a $3.6 millon settlement in one case.)

Also speaking was state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, who declared, rather wishfully, "There was an attempt to utilize this process to divide us, but you never allowed it to happen." In fact, the five groups sponsoring the event differed, as noted above

But the fact that the vigil could only muster two elected officials, longtime project opponents, suggests that other elected officials, even if they didn't express support for the arena by showing up for the Sept. 21 ribbon-cutting, do not want to associate themselves with the opposition.

Council Member Letitia James

"All of us are bracing ourselves" for the traffic emergency announced for today, said James, warning that the project is "a result of no transportation planning at all" and "corporate greed and corporate welfare." (Wait a sec; there was planning, but it was belated and open to question.)

Individuals and business will suffer, James said. Well, certainly some will, though proprietors of bars and restaurants are excited.

"We actually won this struggle," James declared, in what I assume was an effort to highlight community solidarity and a focus on Forest City Ratner's lies in the face of very large evidence that most people think Ratner won.

Part of the march

On the Atlantic Avenue side of the arena, passing the check-in tables for press and VIPs for the Jay-Z event, then to the plaza.

A closing prayer by Rev. Miller

He asked that those who profit from the arena to give back; perhaps there's a role for government and new oversight for Atlantic Yards.

At the party

From the New York Post:
The hottest club in Brooklyn opened on Thursday night, when celebrities and athletes gathered at the Barclays Center and Jay-Z’s 40/40 club.

Nets stars Deron Williams and Joe Johnson joined Jay-Z in opening the brand new venue, which overlooks both the playing court and the streets of Brooklyn.

WNYC on arena opening: ACORN's Lewis claims CBA was legitimate (but where's the compliance monitor?)

As Barclays Opens, Neighbors Still Grumble, reports WNYC. Those grumbling neighbors--could it be that Bruce Ratner doesn't keep his promises (as noted by the Observer).

The most interesting part of the article concerns the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), which prompts Candace Carponter of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn to call it unenforceable, and Gib Veconi of BrooklynSpeaks to point out the inherent conflicted role of signatories, which rely on Forest City Ratner for support.

Why can't neutral experts on CBAs make this point as well?

Ratner's support

WNYC reports:
As of 2005, Forest City Ratner provided more than $100,000 to BUILD to begin to develop community outreach. The developer also committed at least $50,000 in funding to DBNA.
Hold on--these groups have received hundreds of thousands of dollars--surely over $1 million for BUILD, which in the most recent year got $340,000--from Forest City.

ACORN's role

WNYC reports:
One group that signed the CBA defended its role in securing amenities for the surrounding area. ACORN secured a promise from the developer that 50 percent of the residential units created in the Atlantic Yards project would be dedicated to affordable housing units.

“People want to say the Community Benefits Agreement doesn’t represent the entire community because they’re speaking for themselves,” said ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis.

The group is in bankruptcy proceedings, but Lewis insists that ACORN is still alive. She said the whole process of signing the agreement was very open, and that the signatories to the CBA represented thousands of people throughout the borough.

“When we signed the CBA, ACORN had 30,000 members,” added Lewis.
And those members supported the CBA without being told what "affordable" meant. Unmentioned is that Forest City bailed out ACORN with a $1.5 million grant/loan and that Lewis without question supported a configuration on the first promised tower that disproportionately assigned subsidized two-bedroom units to middle-income households.

Also unmentioned was the definitive testimony in May 2005 from Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York:
As a sponsored project of Good Jobs First, which provided support for the CBAs negotiated in California and continues to act as a clearinghouse for information on CBAs, we feel it is important to draw the Council’s attention to several major differences between CBAs as they have been used in other parts of the country and the series of negotiations that FCRC is calling a CBA. Perhaps the most striking is that elsewhere CBAs are negotiated by one broad coalition of groups that would otherwise oppose a project, a coalition that includes labor and community organizations representing a variety of interests. The coalition hammers out its points of unity in advance and then each member holds out on settling on its particular issue until the issues of the other members are addressed. This way, the bargaining power of each group is used for the benefit of the coalition as a whole. In the BAY case, several groups, all of which have publicly supported the project already, have each engaged in what seem to be separate negotiations on particular issues.
Where's the meditation room?

WNYC reports:
The document even called for a meditation room to be built inside the arena.

“I can’t tell you exactly where it is, but there is a meditation room [in the arena], that will be open during events, a non-denominational quiet space for people to get away from the arena,” said Ashley Cotton, executive vice president of External Affairs for Forest City Ratner Companies.
The arena's opening tonight, so perhaps they will find it by then.

In closing

The article does point out that Forest City has not hired the Independent Compliance Monitor it promised way back in October 2005, but does not challenge Forest City or any CBA signatory, but instead closes with some false balance, quoting a kid unlikely to afford too many arena tickets:
Still, at the Wyckoff Gardens New York City Housing Authority Developments in Brooklyn, less than a mile from the Barclays Center, many residents just want the arena to open already.

“I can’t wait,” said 14-year-old Nassir Ali.

“I think it’s going to be great, because we finally got a stadium next to us, and we can just go there and watch basketball,” he said.

Times: Barclays has undercut Garden's high prices for performers, though doesn't always pass on the savings

In Barclays Arena Rivals the Garden’s Glow, a New York Times Arts piece today reports that the Brooklyn arena has already established itself by booking some major acts and offering dates, and rates, unavailable at the busy, expensive Madison Square Garden:
“I consider it a godsend Barclays arena is there,” said Randy Phillips, the chief executive of AEG Live, one of the largest promoters in the country. “Prior to this we were really kind of held hostage on a tour to the availability of Madison Square Garden.”

The new $1 billion arena rises at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues like a modern sculpture, evoking a crashed alien spacecraft with its rusted-steel-and-glass facade and swooping lines. Inside, it is a sleek study in gray and black broken only by bright digital banners, with steeply raked rows of black seats that descend from the street level into the arena’s bowl. With clear sightlines and acoustic panels over hard surfaces to minimize reverb and noise, the space seems intimate yet open. For some, it is a symbol of Brooklyn’s cultural and economic renaissance, a sign the borough has come back from the long slide that started when the Dodgers left in 1957. But it is also a symbol of the borough’s growing stature as center for the arts.
It's also a symbol of the Culture of Cheating.

The prices

The Times reports some news:
Not surprisingly, Barclays has undercut the Garden’s prices for performers, which are among the highest in the industry. Several promoters said a band stands to earn between $150,000 and $250,000 more for a sold-out show at Barclays than for one at the Garden. For concertgoers that means ticket prices for some shows will be lower at Barclays as well: Neil Young fans can buy a seat for $58 at Barclays, versus $63 at the Garden, according to Ticketmaster. Yet tickets to other big shows — the Who and Justin Bieber for instance — are roughly the same price at both places.
This suggests that either costs at Barclays are lower and/or arena promoters are taking an initial lower cut in other to garner attention.

The future

The Times reports:
Barclays is likely to develop its own distinct personality as well, as promoters and arena officials discover what sort of acts resonate there. Jay-Z’s run of eight shows and involvement may cement it as a popular hip-hop stage. It also could become a forum for emerging acts that cannot yet command high ticket prices, older artists who want a larger profit margin or performers with ties to Brooklyn’s vibrant indie-rock scene.
How many other hip-hop acts has the Barclays Center booked? None, according to the events list. I think they very much don't want to be seen as a hip-hop venue.

The honeymoon

The Times reports:
[Jim Glancy, a partner in the Bowery Presents] said it will take time for the positions of the arenas to become defined. Barclays will enjoy a honeymoon period, as bands and their promoters give it a try, and the Garden’s renovations will not be completed until late next year. “The true test is years away,” Mr. Glancy said.
Indeed, though the test regarding the impact of arena operations starts tonight.

Post: many more food and beverage spots moving near arena

Anyone walking around and near the Barclays Center, especially on the Flatbush Avenue side, can see there are empty retail spaces--or non-consumer ones--that are surely to be transformed. The New York Post reports, in Eateries in mad dash to Barclays ’hood:
With rap mogul/Nets co-owner Jay-Z christening the venue with an eight-night concert run starting tonight, Danny Meyer burgers-and-fries joint Shake Shack plans to soon move into prime Flatbush Avenue real estate across the street from the 18,200-seat arena, sources said.

Landlord Michael Pintchik refused to comment on the deal but confirmed two other restaurants were coming to nearby Flatbush Avenue property he owns by Dean Street that should also have foodies salivating.

The owners of super-trendy Delicatessen and Macbar in Manhattan are opening an offshoot eatery called Elbow Room a block away on Flatbush Avenue that also specializes in gourmet mac-and-cheese dishes.

Moving in next door will be a Texas-style barbecue joint “featuring a top pitmaster from Austin, Texas,” Pintchik said.

More than a dozen other new eateries are also in the works within three square blocks of the arena.
That's a little confusing, because there's a place called Elbow Room in the arena, on Atlantic Avenue.

See the Post for more, including reports of a tripling of retail rents.

In Wall Street Journal, arena consultant Schwartz spins on prepaid parking, comparison to Madison Square Garden

Arena Parking in Play, the Wall Street Journal reported last night:
Some Brooklyn parking garage owners are jacking up prices and preparing special event rates in preparation for the thousands of people who may defy the warnings of city officials and drive to the Barclays Center when it opens Friday.
Ok, but what about the plan to provide nearly 2,000 pre-apaid parking spots "seamlessly," as promised by Sam Schwartz, consultant to the arena.

The Journal reports:
Only about 650 on-site parking spaces—including 150 for VIPs—were set aside, with the purpose of discouraging driving to Nets games, concerts and other events at the 18,000-seat capacity arena. Another 700 will be available through arrangements with private garages.
So there's a deficit, as I reported 9/6/12. (Also, there are only 541 on-site spots, by my count, unless they're counting spots at the Atlantic Center mall.)

Is deficit meaningful?

The Journal lets an interested party downplay the issue:
But there are about 1,400 other available spots in private garages within a half-mile of the arena on any given night, according to the engineering firm of former city traffic commissioner, Sam Schwartz, who has served as a traffic consultant to the Barclays Center. A little farther away, there are several more garages, many of which are considering advertising openly for Barclays events.
OK, but wasn't the point to have prepaid parking so people wouldn't cruise for spaces and learn the most direct route?

Like MSG?

The article states:
Parking in the area isn't a new problem. Brooklyn Borough Historian Ron Schweiger said the intersection of Alantic and Flatbush avenues has always been "a congested area for traffic." It was considered as a site for a new Dodgers stadium in the 1950s, he said, but wasn't chosen in part because it lacked good parking. Mr. Schwartz has compared the Barclays Center to Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. The Garden offers no parking, Mr. Schwartz said, but a lot of trains. "It's virtually the same number of subway lines, and in some ways, it's even better at the Barclays Center," he said.
And in some ways it's not. MSG is in a business district, and there are thousands of parking spaces used by business commuters that later open up for arena events.

"Prime Brooklyn Retail" still available on Flatbush Avenue side of Barclays Center

Is the arena finished? Well, on the day the Barclays Center opens, they're still looking for a tenant on Flatbush Avenue, toward Dean Street below the Nets Shop.

Photo by AYInfoNYC

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The laser lights on the roof of the Barclays Center

Remember how the roof logo was deemed OK because no one could see it from the street?

Photos by AYInfoNYC

Gridlock Sam's warning: don't drive to Downtown Brooklyn this weekend (but they're still selling arena-related parking)

Traffic consultant Sam Schwartz, aka Gridlock Sam, warns in his weekend column/press release, Don’t even THINK of driving in Downtown Brooklyn this weekend! Downtown Brooklyn Streets to be Jam Packed with Barclays Center Jay-Z Concerts Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Atlantic Antic Cuts Off Atlantic Ave. on Sunday.

That may be wise advise, but Schwartz also served as a consultant to the Barclays Center, which offers a link to pre-paid parking in and around Downtown Brooklyn, including along Atlantic Avenue, site of the Atlantic Antic.

And though the city Department of Transportation warns that Atlantic Avenue will be closed from 11 am through 6 pm Sunday, Schwartz warns that Atlantic Avenue "may not reopen fully until 7:30 p.m."

What does that mean for those buying remote parking along Atlantic Avenue, with arrival beginning at 6 pm and a shuttle bus along Atlantic supposed to begin at that hour? Unclear, but it seems likely there will be delays. The Barclays Parking web site does not warn potential purchasers of that possibility.

The press release
(New York, NY) – September 27, 2012 -- Gridlock Sam has declared a Gridlock Alert for Downtown Brooklyn along Flatbush Ave. from Tillary St. to Grand Army Plaza and along Atlantic Ave. from the BQE to Bedford Ave. The Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges along with the BQE will be affected. Avoid driving in the area from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Expect a post-Jay-Z-concert surge just after midnight all three nights.
The concerts, all scheduled for 8 p.m., will draw almost 20,000 people to Brooklyn’s busiest intersection, Flatbush Ave. and Atlantic Ave, at the height of Friday’s rush hour. On Sunday, the Atlantic Antic, one of the city’s biggest street fairs, will close Atlantic Ave. from the BQE to Flatbush Ave. starting 6 a.m. The street may not reopen fully until 7:30 p.m.
Gridlock Sam’s Best Bet for fans is transit. He said, “Flatbush and Atlantic Ave. is the easiest place, next to Penn Station, to get to by transit. Eleven subway lines: 2, 3, 4, 5, C, D, B, N, Q, R and G stop at the arena or are a 2 to 3 blocks walk. The LIRR stops at Atlantic Terminal, right across the street from the arena. Pre-concert there’s already plenty of service. Post-concerts and events, the MTA is adding subways to certain lines and doubling LIRR service from Atlantic Terminal to ensure efficient and convenient travel."

In related tech news, Barclays Center has partnered with Brooklyn-based Roadify, the leading multi-mode mass transit data platform, to provide a real-time, broadcast-ready feed of subway and LIRR transit conditions, service advisories and departure times to display screens throughout the arena. Download the free Roadify iPhone app at:
It makes no mention of Schwartz's other gig working for the arena operator.