Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Conventional wisdom: Philly > Brooklyn for DNC because of swing state, security perimeter around Barclays Center (would businesses close?)

Well, a day after the press conference/pep rally at City Hall for the 2016 Democratic National Convention to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center, the DC-based Politico's Playbook yesterday offered a prediction, and a scoop:

--CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: We’re goin’ to Philly! Pennsylvania’s a swing state. GOP convention is in Cleveland, making it less likely the DNC will choose Ohio. Brooklyn’s Barclays Center has issues (serious, but not unresolvable) with the security perimeter, which could close a bunch of small businesses for weeks.
Well, that didn't come up publicly, did it?

The Daily News reported last night, Bill de Blasio does not rule out possible local business closings if city hosts DNC in 2016:

Mayor de Blasio on Tuesday did not rule out the possibility that businesses adjacent to the Barclays Center might have to temporarily close if the city hosts the 2016 Democratic national convention in Brooklyn.
The shutdowns might be necessary to create a secure perimeter around the arena if the convention is held there.
It was not immediately clear how many businesses would be affected and how long any closures might last.
“Our job is to maximize economic opportunity, minimize any situation where there would have to be any disruption of business — but that's going to be a process that plays out in the details," de Blasio said.
What might happen? Who benefits?

The Daily News reported:
Kathy Wylde, head of the Partnership for New York City business group and a member of de Blasio's DNC 2016 Host Committee, predicted that "neighbors and business owners will likely need to garage their private vehicles for the duration, and people will probably not be able to drive into the Atlantic Center" mall.
We don't know how far that extends. But Wylde suggested that "the longer term benefits of increased tourism and positive branding for Brooklyn and the Barclays area should more than offset any losses" and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Carlo Scissura said he had "no concerns about how it's going to affect the neighborhood.

As a commenter responded, "Some people will make a lot of money. Other people will be traumatically inconvenienced."

I don't see how "positive branding" for the area is going to help small businesses. Or the arena's nearest neighbors. The likelihood, based on past experience, is an unevenly distributed set of costs and benefits, with the latter accruing to the arena, the mayor, and other politicos gaining the spotlight--plus hotels, restaurants, and other tourism-related outlets throughout the city.

The arena a winner

City and State dubbed the mayor, and by extension, the arena among this week's Winners:

Bill de Blasio – The Barclays Center just keeps on winning in Brooklyn, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio gave it another laurel by making it one of three finalists to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Sure, Philadelphia is still the city most likely to host the Dems, especially now that the Republicans will host their convention in Cleveland, diminishing Columbus's chances as a competitive bidder. But Brooklyn and the city’s funkiest mayor in decades have impressed the nation with a new brand of hospitality. Bonus points for de Blasio: He even allowed the press to attend the announcement.
Isn't it curious that all this good buzz for the Barclays Center comes as developer Forest City Ratner is putting up for sale its 55% share (of the arena operating company)? No wonder Bruce Ratner is backing the DNC bid.

Who knows: it's possible that, if and when the DNC comes to Brooklyn, the convention might be held in a venue 100% owned by a Russian oligarch. After all, Mikhail Prokhorov currently owns 45%.

Update: a letter to the Daily News, 12/3/14:
Payback time
Brooklyn: I was amazed to read that Mayor de Blasio wants to shut down businesses in the Barclays Center area for security reasons if they a Democratic National Convention takes place there (“Dem lockdown,” Nov. 26). This would be a disaster for the neighborhood. To compensate for lost income, the businesses should calculate their average daily revenues and submit a bill to de Blasio. The city should then pay these businesses one and a half times their normal daily cash intake, since they would obviously make more if they were open during the convention. This would allow their employees to be paid for those days. Brenda Casson

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