Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Spike Lee prefers MSG, but thinks its great that Barclays Center hires from nearby (but forgets the larger Atlantic Yards promises)

On HOT 97 Monday, beginning 2:50 of the video below, famous Knicks fan Spike Lee was told by one of the hosts, a self-described Brooklyn Nets fan, that "they'll slap the Knicks around differently, this year," referring to the Nets' new players.

"We'll see on the court," allowed Lee, who said he'd been to Barclays Center.

"It's a nice facility," he was told.

"I like the Garden," Lee replied.

"It doesn't have the charm of the Garden," allowed the host, continuing, "You being a Brooklynite, do you appreciate what the Barclays Center has done for that area?"

"Oh yeah," Lee responded. "Every time I go there, I see people who look like me who have a job. it's great."

"We did a lot on that," the host said."

"It's great that people can walk to work. They--I gotta give it up to Jay Z and Prokhorov and Ratner. They made a decision that we're going to hire people from the neighborhoods surrounding Barclays Center and further out, that we should look like what Brooklyn looks like.' And it a beautiful thing."

"And if you walk into the Barclay, they're happy to be at work, they're happy you came," he was told.

Looking more broadly

Well, it's a little more complicated. There's enormous turnover at the Barclays Center. They're had several rounds of hiring, because staffers are getting fired and/or leaving.

The jobs are part-time, not nearly enough to live on independently. Yes, they're a leg up for people who need entry-level work, or cobble together several jobs, or have family to rely on for housing.

But what "the Barclays Center has done for that area" was supposed to be part of a project that provided careers, transformational jobs, and affordable housing.

That's why the city and state delivered enormous assistance, including direct subsidies, tax breaks, an override of zoning, and eminent domain. Not for what, as Comptroller John Liu likes to say on the campaign trail, "popcorn vendor jobs."


  1. It also delivered a major venue for sports and culture. You forgot that.

  2. Thanks, Bob Windrem. But the subsidies were predicated on the package.