Monday, February 01, 2016

Students study the Barclays Center and environs; CEO calls arena a lesson in perseverance (WTF?)

This week's edition of The Appraisal column in the Times is For a Group of Ninth Graders, Barclays Center Becomes a Classroom, published online today for publications tomorrow in print:
It was [teacher Teresa Genaro's] idea three years ago — when the school replaced midterms with two weeks of intensive, single-subject symposia — to have students study Barclays Center, as well as Ebbets Field, and the ways sports shaped Brooklyn, and by extension the world. With the assignment of producing a multimedia blog chronicling their discoveries, the students were playing the part of a junior Frank Deford and Jane Jacobs, scouring the neighborhoods, bleachers and news reports of the venues to create stories of their own about an ever-changing, ever-cheering borough.
That a group of ninth graders could spend more than a week scrutinizing Barclays Center with the same attention they would give to “The Scarlet Letter” or a science fair frog was another reminder of just how fixed the arena has become in the modern identity of Brooklyn — and how even at a young age, New Yorkers can feel conflicted about this or any development project.
They do feel conflicted, having seen the vital-but-dated documentary Battle for Brooklyn (as well as a film on the Dodgers) and debated eminent domain. The found mixed opinions in the neighborhoods around the arena. 

One student acknowledges being mad about "what they did about the brownstones... But then you see what they’ve done for all the businesses, and that was good.” That's simplistic; several mom-and-pop businesses have been pushed out, while food and beverage establishments have proliferated.

And the closing quote is a something of a shrug as a student, taking in the changes wrought by Ebbets Field and Barclays Center, suggests, “I don’t know if it’s any worse or any different. It’s just what happens in New York City.”  (Reporter Matt Chaban, on Twitter, agreed with my observation that it was a superficial conclusion.)

Thing is, the story is by no means over, as neighbors pursue more accountability and developer Forest City Ratner continues to mislead the public.

The bottom line: a lesson in perseverance?

Notably, the students visit for an Islanders hockey game, and the only outsider quoted is arena/Nets/Islanders CEO Brett Yormark. (Reporter Matt Chaban did contact Goldstein, who didn't get back to him in time, but he might have tried someone else.)

So here's Yormark:
Brett Yormark, the chief executive officer of Barclays Center, said its complicated history offered a lesson in perseverance. “If there’s one message I want kids to understand, it’s dreaming big and reaching as high up as you can,” he said in an interview, “and the Barclays Center embodies that.”
Really? I think the bottom line is that the developers of a project like this will do whatever it takes to move it along. (Here's the unreliable Yormark, on audio.) Goldstein, not dissimilarly, thinks it's about crony capitalism.

Some discussion on Twitter










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