Friday, October 04, 2013

Barclays Center: Brooklyn’s “Community Arena”? What happened to promised civic events, school sports? (from the Brooklyn Rail)

From my essay in this month's Brooklyn Rail, Barclays Center: Brooklyn’s “Community Arena”? After one year, the arena is a marquee venue, but not the promised home for civic events.:
Excerpts from Atlantic Yards promotional flier
For years, trying to sway public opinion, backers of the larger Atlantic Yards project and state overseers promised that the arena would serve broader civic functions and meet local needs. The “community arena” would host local high school, college, and amateur sports; community activities; and high school and college graduations.

Few such events have been held in the past 12 months: one high school graduation, two college commencements, and two Police Academy ceremonies. There’s been no high school hoops, outside of the national Jordan Brand all-star triple-header, with one game involving players from “the greater New York area.” Of some 30 college basketball contests, about one-fourth involved Brooklyn schools, mainly LIU.

Before Atlantic Yards was officially announced, however, Borough President Marty Markowitz asserted that the arena would incorporate a long-planned Sportsplex aimed to accommodate amateur athletics.

...“Imagine what an arena like the Barclays Center will do for children, for high school sports, for teens,” Markowitz declared in June 2009 testimony (read by a deputy) to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. His words backed Forest City’s successful request to renegotiate its deal with the M.T.A. for development rights to the railyard at the heart of the Atlantic Yards site.

Today, the official Atlantic Yards web site describes the Barclays Center straightforwardly: “a home for the Nets basketball team...[and] a venue for over 200 events a year, including tennis, the circus, boxing, concerts, and other sports and entertainment events.” The Barclays Center’s mission statement offers more grandiose claims: “We present unparalleled Entertainment in Brooklyn, in a State of the Art Venue, with global appeal that lifts the spirit and creates lasting memories."
For the full essay, see the Brooklyn Rail.

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