Saturday, February 14, 2015

NYT: unscientific survey shows locals who think Barclays Center handles hoops think it could've handled DNC2016

So, after not analyzing (beyond my op-ed) the potential impact, including extended security zones, of the Democratic National Convention, the New York Times offers Dismay and Relief in Brooklyn Over a Party That Won’t Be Coming to Town, published online yesterday and in today's paper.

And guess what--an unscientific survey showed that most of those interviewed were disappointed. It sure contrasts with the statement by another reporter that random interviewees were happy.

The Times reported:
Perhaps it was only natural then that on Thursday, after it was announced that the borough had lost out to Philadelphia, a half-year’s worth of pent-up Brooklyn cynicism greeted the news online.
“Philadelphia punished with 2016 D.N.C. instead of Brooklyn,” crowed David Colon of the blog Brokelyn, one of the commentators who danced a jig on the grave of Brooklyn’s hopes. When the WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer, announcing the news, wrote on Twitter, “Sorry, Brooklyn,” one user was quick to respond: “Why are you saying sorry? This is fantastic news.”
...Longtime critics of the Barclays Center — the basketball-and-BeyoncĂ©-concerts arena that hosted the 2013 Video Music Awards and was to do the same for the convention — exchanged knowing, told-you-so nods online, saying the largely residential area near the arena could never have accommodated the extra traffic and security measures the event would have entailed.
But an entirely unscientific sampling of those who live and work around the arena revealed a surprising streak of idealism — though, it must be noted, no Republicans could be found to offer their perspective.
That's kind of snarky. What if those longtime critics were absolutely correct?

Who knows more?

The Times did not talk to anyone in the Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance, many of whom would have expressed some relief, given that they had studied the impact.

Instead, we got echoes of the de Blasio/Schumer consensus:
“It’d be exciting to see it up close,” said Alison Tusick, 23, a singer-songwriter who was carrying a ukulele on her way to the subway in Fort Greene on Thursday.
Ms. Tusick, whose day job is working as a barista at Blue Bottle Coffee in Boerum Hill, where beans are treated like precious stones, had a message for her preferred presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton: “Hillary, come to Blue Bottle! I’ll give you all the free coffee.”
Asked about the traffic, noise and general inconvenience the convention would have brought with it, residents of nearby neighborhoods like Fort Greene, Park Slope and Prospect Heights said they had been pleasantly surprised to find that the Barclays Center, so controversial during its development, had not had much impact on their daily lives. If they could survive the night in December when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Beyoncé, Jay Z and scores of protesters all converged on the arena, the thinking seemed to go, they could endure a few days of political pageantry.
A different analysis

But that's a category error. The convention, attracting some 35,000 people--not 15,000--would be a much bigger deal than a basketball game plus some celebrities and a relatively small number of protesters. 

Big events, like the MTV Video Music Awards, have created extraordinary strains. 

Consider the the NBA All-Star weekend, attracting far smaller crowds. It worked relatively well last night, as far as I could tell, but not without significant strains.

Last night, at 11:30 pm, there were numerous idling limos on Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues, which is partly residential. 

Also, an armada of buses lined up on residential Bergen Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues, waiting to make the turn onto Flatbush to pick up event attendees. And there were only supposed to be 15,000 people there.

An alternative voice

The Times article did cite one opponent:
Not so fast, said Samantha Rubin, 22, a student teacher who grew up in the area, as she waited for a bus near Atlantic Terminal, the hub of shops and subway lines near the arena.
“Thank God,” she said of the news that her neighborhood would not be getting the convention. “The Democratic National Convention shouldn’t be here, the V.M.A.s shouldn’t be here. I feel the Barclays Center is destroying the neighborhood.”
Updates: more coverage

Here's a City Lens article headlined Many Brooklynites Are Relieved Convention Isn’t Coming, which actually reports mixed responses, but stresses the issue of relief. So it depends whom you talk to.

A panel on NY 1 was skeptical of the 13-minute reported bus ride from Brooklyn. "I think it would've been a nightmare," said Elinor Tatum of the Amsterdam News

Host Josh Robin: "We didn't get much accurate information from the officials wanting this... it is really hard to get around."

Jillian Jorgenson said, "There were concerns from the beginning about the security perimeter around the Barclays Center I don't know if DNC members were really hip to the subway... it may not have been that easy the way Mayor de Blasio had to try to make it seem when he rode the train with some folks from the convention site committee... And it might not have been easy for the residents and businesses surrounding the Barclays Center."

Also on NY 1, veteran Democratic National Committeeman Robert Zimmerman, a New Yorker, spoke with Robin about the choice of Philadelphia. He said Brooklyn didn't "lose," but rather was a longshot from the start.

"But what I really did come down to was that logistics became a question," he said, citing the tough logistics in spread-out Charlotte. "There were concerns about the security perimeter around the convention hall."

Still he cited Barclays Center as "a national phenomenon," with the All-Star Weekend and MTV Video Music Awards having the logistics "worked out fine." (Not really.) Still, he said the security perimeters in Philadelphia were more manageable.

Then again, "if they were significant dealbreakers, New York's proposal wouldn't have gotten so far," Zimmerman said, indicating "it's inevitable" that a convention will come to New York.

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