Friday, April 17, 2015

Student hoops at the Barclays Center: pretty much either an all-star game or pay-to-play

I wrote in July 2012 about the promise--in a 20014 Forest City Ratner flier and other propaganda--that the Atlantic Yards arena would be a venue for "amateur athletics."

That was reinforced by elected officials.

When the first Memorandum of Understanding signed by the city, state, and Forest City was released, then-Gov. George Pataki, in a 3/4/05 press release, promised that "The new Arena will not only be home to the Nets, but will host local community events, as well as concerts and school athletics for neighboring high schools and colleges."

Well, not so much. 

Yes, there are several college tournaments with teams of national or regional interest.

And Brooklyn-based Long Island University plays a few games a year.

But the arena is a hardly a home for high school basketball, so the promises were out of line. Rather, as described below, it's been a home for pay-to-play.

There has been one regular high school event: today is the third straight year of the "country's premier prep basketball event, Jordan Brand Classic," at the Barclays Center. It includes an International Game, then the first annual Girls All-American Game, then the Regional Game, and the National Game.

The PSAL blip

New York City's Public School Athletic League (PSAL) championships did come to the Barclays Center in 2014 for the first time (press release), but returned to Madison Square Garden this year. Last year's blip was a scheduling conflict with MSG.

As the Daily News reported, the one downside of using the Barclays Center last year was a condensed playoff schedule, with fewer days between games in the tournament.

“God forbid a kid gets injured (in the semifinals), you don’t have that extra couple of days to nurse that kid back to 100%,” [Cardozo boys coach Ron] Naclerio told the newspaper last year. “That is the one negative. When you’re dealing with corporate America, unfortunately they don’t adjust to you; you adjust to them.”

Pay-to-play

You can get to the Barclays Center, it turns out, if you pay

As shown in the screenshot at right, there's a Fan Experience Package that includes:
Court of Dreams
Play where the pros play before or after a Brooklyn Nets game! Do not miss this opportunity to play an authentic basketball game on the court with the same amenities as the pros including announcers, access to the player benches, and the ability for your fans to watch and cheer you on. Call for ticket requirement.
This is hardly novel in the NBA, though the Nets are more opaque than some, since they don't announce a ticket requirement.

The Miami Heat requires at least 150 group tickets per hour. The Cleveland Cavaliers require at least 300 tickets purchased. The Indiana Pacers require 100-300 tickets. The Atlantic Hawks require 200-300 tickets. The Dallas Mavericks require $9.000-$10,000 in tickets. (For the Knicks, you only get the training center.)


A high school game at the Barclays Center

Two New Jersey high school teams did play at the Barclays Center in January of last year.

They just had to sell some tickets, as shown in the flyer at left. This is one of several examples of high school and other teams playing on the Court of Dreams.

A youth team at the Barclays Center

The youth basketball program FunSport was one of the first, in December 2012, as noted here:
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23rd – CHAMPIONSHIP GAME @BARCLAYS CENTER (Details)
* Each player will receive new uniforms, shoes, socks, backpack, headband, and t-shirt
* This weekend tickets will be on sale. Minimum tickets are $50pp or premium package which includes courtside seating during championship game and closer seating for Nets-Sixers game for $175pp (limited quantity available)
The video of the event shows a rather sparse crowd.




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