Ratner, chief executive of Madison Square Garden Co. since it spun off from Cablevision in 2010, is supervising the arena's $980 million renovation. He was less dismissive than the headline suggested, calling "Barclays Center is a good thing... Our biggest issue is there's only 365 days in the year and we cannot book everything that we'd like to book."
Told that Barclays, with basketball, concerts and soon hockey, looks like a rival, he responded:
I don't think anybody sees it that way. I'm surprised that you would frame the question that way unless you were just trying to be provocative. The Garden is the Garden, and it's been here since 1879. It sits on top of the busiest transportation hub in New York. It's where people and performers go for big shows. Where else are you going to have the "12-12-12" show? The fight of the century? It happens here; it always has and always will. We hope Barclays is successful. There's room for successful secondary plays around the marketplace.
And, unmentioned in this article, the venues are the two finalists for the 2015 National Basketball Association All-Star Game. That's a head-to-head battle both very much want to win.
History vs. hip
The Garden has all the history, the cachet, and well, what better location than midtown Manhattan?We may hear some more about that "clamor" at tonight's hearing on the scope for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.
The Barclays Center is located in the hot borough in Brooklyn, offering the league a much-needed younger, hipper vibe.
The NBA can’t lose, but….
I think that Barclays would have the edge based on freshness – except I wonder if the surrounding neighborhood could handle the clamor as well as Manhattan can with all its experience.
The NBA shouldn’t have the 2015 All-Star game at Madison Square Garden because its owner is a union buster, a top city pol said.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio fired off a letter to the NBA asking the league to shun the World’s Most Famous Arena in favor of Brooklyn’s upstart Barclays Center for the 2015 All-Star Game - citing owner James Dolan’s clashes with unionized workers at Cablevision, which he heads.
The strife includes a dispute over the controversial firing of 22 workers earlier this year.
“Choosing Barclays would ... ensure that the NBA does not give a tacit stamp of approval to the unfair, anti-worker polices of the owner of Madison Square Garden,” de Blasio wrote to NBA commissioner David Stern.
“Brooklyn would make a compelling host for the 2015 NBA All-Star Game, even without these pressing concerns. I urge you to do right by fans in the outer-boroughs,” he wrote.Also see coverage in DNAinfo.
Now, there's compelling evidence (see Michael Powell's column) of troubling corporate behavior by Cablevision.
The Ratner connection
But de Blasio's advocacy is just a little selective. If he were truly a crusader for fairness, wouldn't he have written a letter protesting developer Forest City Ratner's failure to hire the long-promised Independent Compliance for the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement?
If he were truly a crusader for workers, wouldn't he have protested Forest City's deceptive claim that its prime construction subcontractor is a union shop or that modular construction shortchanges licensed trade unions? Might he have something to say about Bruce Ratner's inflated claims about arena jobs?