First impressions from the groundbreaking event: no local elected officials, cheers for Jay-Z, and Brooklyn invocations abounding
Yes, it was an impressive party in a packed tent, though some of the speeches--even the invocation by the Rev. Herbert Daughtry--went way long. (Here's a blow-by-blow, with photos, from Curbed. Here's coverage in the Brooklyn Paper.)
(First two photos by Kathryn Kirk/Borough President's Office)
No local electeds, but the big guns
There were few Brooklyn elected officials present, and none from anywhere near the site. Those present included State Senators Marty Golden and Carl Kruger; Assemblymen Darryl Towns and Stephen Cymbrowitz; and Council Members Darlene Mealy and Mike Nelson. (State Senator John Sampson, Democratic Majority Conference Leader, sent his regards and former Assemblyman Roger Green got a mention from Daughtry.) Oh, and of course Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, the jovial MC.
For the moment, at least, that didn't make a big difference because not only has Mayor Mike Bloomberg backed the project to the hilt, so did Governor David Paterson, despite any misimpression he might have given. And no local elected officials had a vote.
But that will make a difference very soon.
While Forest City Ratner continues to claim $5 billion in new tax revenue and 8000 permanent jobs, someone told Paterson that the numbers were bogus, since he offered more conservative--though still way overoptimistic--figures.
There was a lot of talk about jobs. A lot. But the project isn't about jobs--at least not nearly as many as once promised. The numbers are way fuzzy. As are the figures regarding tax revenue.
Hova in the house
Based on applause, the most popular person in the room was entertainer and entrepreneur Jay-Z. The second most popular was Bruce Ratner, as he spearheaded the project and, not incidentally, had many staffers in the house. Probably the third most popular was the concept of union jobs.
Only a project like this could get union construction workers, the Rev. Al Sharpton and ACORN leader Bertha Lewis, and the business community together.
The arena and an obstacle
The rendering of the Barclays Center--yes, with a glowing roof advertisement--behind the stage was cropped, perhaps just for space, but the "vaportecture" towers were mostly gone.
Click on photo to enlarge; first row: Bloomberg, Paterson, Ratner, Markowitz (speaking), Bob Diamond of Barclays, Jay-Z, Nets Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark; second row: union leader Gary LaBarbera, Daughtry, Delia Hunley-Adossa, chair of the Community Benefits Agreement coalition.
Behind the podium, visible through the transparent wall of the tent for those at the left, was the condo building where Daniel Goldstein, the spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, lives with his family on a now-private street controlled by Forest City Ratner.
Brooklyn, again and again
Goldstein and other protesters, who held an event burying "the soul of Brooklyn," could be heard chanting and whistling on Atlantic Avenue outside the tent. (Markowitz cracked that they were "disgruntled Knicks fans.")
Not only was the dessert table packed with Brooklyn confections, attendees left with a tote back picturing the Barclays Center with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, a hat emblazoned "bklyn," and news of "Bats, Balls, Nets & Hoops: Stories of Sports in Brooklyn," an educational curriculum created by the Brooklyn Historical Society, with support from Barclays.
A few thousand--or tens of thousand--dollars goes a long way for good publicity, so, when there's so much public support and tax breaks, we should expect a lot more such "giving back."
(Photo and set by Adrian Kinloch)