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Arena in 2011? New construction schedule suggests that's the soonest

The three-year bridge reconstruction cycle for Atlantic Yards isn't scheduled to begin until next year, which suggests that the Atlantic Yards arena would not open until 2011, at the earliest.

From the Construction Update issued yesterday by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC):
It is expected that early in 2008, the Carlton Avenue Bridge will be closed. In accordance with DOT requirements, the public will be notified two weeks in advance.

Push back official word one year

Past results suggest that skeptical outsiders should automatically add a year to any official projections. Remember, the arena was originally scheduled to open in 2009, but for months I pointed out that was an impossibility, given how the announced construction schedule was not being met. (Still, Forest City Enterprises executive Chuck Ratner asserted it would be.)

On November 1, Lumi Rolley of No Land Grab pointed out that the Nets had finally acknowledged that the stated opening date of 2009 was bogus:
In what amounts to a soft release this week, staged around the NJ Nets home opener, Bruce Ratner and the Nets organization are finally coming clean by acknowledging that the Brooklyn arena WON'T be ready for the 2009-2010 season, and, if the project survives legal hurdles, an arena opening in three years is more likely.

And last Wednesday, December 12, the Nets officially announced to the unskeptical New York Times that the arena would open sometime in 2010.

Reasons for skepticism

However, even that looks doubtful. The Carlton Avenue Bridge would take two years to reconstruct and, after that, the Sixth Avenue Bridge would take one year, according to the ESDC's Final Environmental Impact Statement. (This assumes that pending lawsuits don't delay things further.)

There's no way to close both bridges at the same time without creating ruinous traffic jams. Could the arena open with the Sixth Avenue bridge still under reconstruction? ESDC spokesman A.J. Carter said last month, "Forest City Ratner tells us that while the arena might be able to open without the bridge in operation, the goal is to have the bridge open in coordination with the arena's opening."

Well, the arena could open, but it would be a very ugly situation.

Potential scenarios

So the scenarios I suggested last month pretty much remain valid:

1) the arena opens "on time" in October 2010, as work speeds up on the bridges so they're finished in less than three years

2) the arena opens on time, but the Sixth Avenue bridge remains closed for a while; the potential traffic nightmare might be political suicide for local elected officials

3) the arena is delayed and doesn't open until sometime later in the season, in 2011, which means the Nets would have to play some games at their current facility, the Izod Center (or perhaps the Prudential Center, if they move temporarily to Newark)

4) the arena doesn't open until much later in 2011, perhaps too late for the 2010-11 season.

Yesterday, in announcing the closing of the Carlton Avenue bridge in 2008, the ESDC essentially said, "Don't bet on 2010."


  1. Actually the Ratarena was originally scheduled to open in Spring 2006 -- 2 years ago. (In Dec. 10,2003 Ratlantic Yards press packets.)
    Patti Hagan

  2. Yes, the original announcement was 2006. I was referring to the date in the Empire State Development Corporation documents.


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