Wednesday, December 03, 2014

My comment on Capital New York's "The Barclays effect"

I've posted this comment on the original article.

My comment on Capital New York's "The Barclays effect" is below:

An article relying on a Barclays Center rep, the Brooklyn Chamber's head, and a happy bar owner, counterposed by a couple of one-step-removed academics, is bound to miss a few things.

(Why not check in with the North Flatbush Business Improvement District, a displaced business or two, and a local analyst like me, or Neil deMause of Field of Schemes?)

The article states that the move has "created new fans," since attendance went from 13,691 in 2011-2012 to 17,187 in 2012-13.

That deserves a lot more perspective. The Nets in New Jersey drew 14,179 in 2010-11 and 15,147 in 2008-09. It's fair to say that the move lost New Jersey fans, and gained fans in New York City and adjacent counties.

The important gloss on that is that the importation of New Jersey fans--who, unlike New Yorkers, wouldn't spend their entertainment dollars in NYC--was key to the tax revenues projected to justify subsidies from New York City and New York State. (Short memories, right?)

Also, announced attendance in Brooklyn does not equal gate count. A report by Empire State Development, the New York state agency that oversees the arena and larger Atlantic Yards development project, aimed to analyze the traffic impacts of the arena, noting, "Actual attendance during the 2012-2013 season (including Playoffs) averaged approximately 14,974."

It is notable that the landlords around the arena, notably the Pintchik family, have savvily tried to rent to businesses, like Shack Shack, that might appeal to locals and arena-goers. (And they've said no to Hooters.)

But most anecdotal and journalistic surveys show a distinct variability to the "Barclays effect," which applies mostly to bars and restaurants, and more significantly to one-off events like concerts, rather than basketball games.

After all, despite the claim that "Forest City Ratner and Barclays have worked to connect the arena’s patrons to the businesses outside," they're not trying that hard. Why should they? They make a lot more money when the spending stays inside the arena.

Regarding McMahon's, it's worth noting that when it was first sold, new owner Mike Maher said he was the only one "who promised to keep the name, and the brand."

He wound up selling it, and the new owners changed both name and brand.

Whether it [the neighborhood] had "enough economic oomph to compete" is an interesting question. One aspect of the "Barclays effect" is raising rents to drive out less upscale businesses like, say, Christie's Jamaican patties. It's by no means a rising tide for all, and can push toward a retail monoculture.

Finally, no article about the "Barclays effect" should ignore the downsides of the arena's tight placement--at least at the back and south--in a residential district, including idling limos, illegal parking, and regular construction violations. See

Norman Oder

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report

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