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A p.r. man's fate: fighting the West Side Stadium, flacking for the Brooklyn Arena

When you're a public relations professional, you often go where the work is, but consider the mental whiplash that Forest City Ratner spokesman Loren Riegelhaupt must experience--especially this week.

He used to work for the investor relations company Sloane & Company, which worked with Madison Square Garden owner Cablevision. So less than three years ago Riegelhaupt worked on the "grassroots" coalition New York Association for Better Choices, which opposed the construction of the West Side Stadium. (One critic said Cablevision had "hijacked" the opposition.)

Indeed, an 8/20/04 Associated Press article, headlined Mayor: Stadium could be used for protesters stated:
Loren Riegelhaupt of the New York Association for Better Choices, which opposes the stadium, criticized the mayor's comments: "Whether it is the most expensive football stadium ever or the most expensive protest area ever, the West Side Stadium is a colossal waste of $600 million in taxpayer resources and that's what the vast majority of New Yorkers are really protesting against."

Hate the stadium, love the arena

Now Riegelhaupt flacks for Forest City Ratner, which is building the most expensive arena ever, as part of a "civic project" using a yet-unspecified amount of taxpayer resources.

In the recent issue of City Limits Investigates, he parried legitimate questions about the timing of Atlantic Yards by calling it "ridiculous speculation by opponents whose only goal is to stop the project."

On Wednesday, faced with clear evidence that a reform of the 421-a tax break contained a special section to benefit Forest City Ratner, Riegelhaupt, contacted by the New York Observer, would not comment on the legislation itself but offered something we already knew, that the developer intends to “have a mix of market-rate and affordable units in all of the rental buildings.”
(Emphasis added)

After that, Forest City clammed up completely. Remember former executive Jim Stuckey's claim of "tremendous transparency"?

I know Riegelhaupt's just doing his job (though he's never answered any of my queries) and that Forest City Ratner is not unlike other companies in trying to feed and spin the press. But I suspect he could easily argue against himself if there were a Brooklyn version of Cablevision in the Atlantic Yards fight.

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