Saturday, March 09, 2013

Barclays Center named "Best Entertainment Venue"; Larry King visits, expresses delight at arena and "New Brooklyn"

It's been a very, very good week for Bruce Ratner. Not only was he honored by the Jackie Robinson Foundation, he saw the arena he built named, in New York magazine's Best of New York issue, Best Entertainment Venue:
Barclays Center
620 Atlantic Ave., nr. Ft. Greene Pl., Prospect Heights; 917-618-6100
Obvious? Perhaps. But where else—except, maybe, Madison Square Garden—can you catch Swedish House Mafia and a boxing match, or Alicia Keys, the Ringling Bros., and the Chicago Bulls, all in the same week? The curatorial flourishes at Brooklyn’s newly minted sports-and-entertainment complex extend well beyond the programming. Bieber, ­BeyoncĂ©, gymnastics tours, and so on get you in the door, but it’s the thoughtful concessions (Fatty ’Cue, Calexico), no-fee ATMs, unnervingly perky staff (trained by the Disney Institute, no less), and modern conveniences like cell-phone-charging stations and free Wi-Fi that keep you coming back.
No mention, of course, of the wee taint attached to the arena, or the bass from certain concerts penetrating neighbors' homes. But, hey, the Nets won last night, and Deron Williams was huge.

Larry King comes back

Then, and you coulda written it remotely, came the Wall Street Journal's 3/6/13 portrait of professional Brooklynite Larry King's bug-eyed visit to the Barclays Center, headlined Larry King: Back in Brooklyn"
Larry King grinned behind those Larry King glasses. This Brooklyn didn't look like the Brooklyn he knew, frozen immaculately more than a half-century ago in memories like the train from Bensonhurst toward Coney Island, switching to the Brighton line, off at Prospect Park, and fifty cents to enter the borough's last great sports cathedral, Ebbets Field.
This Brooklyn—the billion-dollar Barclays Arena, home to the basketball Nets—was sleek and decadent, unrecognizable. The downstairs club, sponsored by Calvin Klein, resembled the lobby of a spaceship. A VIP room in Brooklyn! Larry's brother, Marty, came over and handed Larry a glass of red wine. A few steps away, a server carved steak into buttery ribbons.
This was amusing to them. They'd grown up with so little, Larry and Marty Zeiger. First in Brownsville, at 208 Howard Avenue. Their father had a bar and grill on Fulton Street; he died suddenly of a heart attack when Larry was nine, Marty was six. An aunt helped the family relocate to Bensonhurst. They spent a couple of years on public assistance.
Those days were long past. Marty, an attorney who worked in private equity, lived on Central Park. Larry King was Larry King. He was staying at the St. Regis, a sumptuous SUV waiting at the side door.
"Always remember," Larry said as the hired car crossed the Manhattan Bridge. "Don't you, Marty?"
"Sure," Marty said.
"Always remember poverty," Larry said.
But they could afford Ebbets... 
Nice yarn. Leaves out how many other steps there were along the path  to "The New Brooklyn, with its multimillion-dollar brownstones and artisanal sandwich shops," and how they got the arena to fit in. There's a bit more to the story.

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