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Spike Lee: "I’m not going to get into the politics of the Barclays Center; the thing is, it’s up, it’s a reality" (but "I just hope people take mass transit")

From Will Leitch's interview in New York Magazine's Vulture with a famous Brooklyn-born Knicks fan, Spike Lee Talks Obama, the End of Mookie's Brooklyn, and the Hollywood Color Line:
Q. Your offices are three blocks from the Barclays Center. Do you think the Nets will change Brooklyn?A. I am happy for Brooklyn, but I’m not leaving my beloved orange and blue. And I just cannot wait. One of the biggest nights in New York City sports history is going to be the first Knicks-Nets game in Brooklyn. That is going to be huge. That is going to be war.
Q. What do you think of the stadium?A. I do not know the specifics about how people got moved out and all that stuff. I’m not going to get into the politics of the Barclays Center; the thing is, it’s up, it’s a reality, and that’s just that. It’s here; you have to deal with it. Negative and positive; I can deal with it. Jay-Z is going to christen it in September with his concert: you’ve got Barbra Streisand coming. The Nets will be playing there in the next NBA season, and Brooklyn has their first ­major-league team since the Dodgers fled after the 1957 season, the year I was born.
I'm not going to get into the politics of the Barclays Center is an understandable and not uncommon hedge, but given that Spike Lee had gotten into the politics of so many things it's a bit of a dodge.

Warnings about traffic

Lee continued with a warning:
But I do know this: I just hope people take mass transit. I hope they take it when they are coming from Long Island, because you know you have the Manhattan Bridge and you have the Brooklyn Bridge. The Manhattan Bridge comes [begins drawing on a napkin] … If you come up the bridge right on Flatbush ­Avenue, you come off the Brooklyn Bridge, you make a left on Tillary, and you are on Flatbush Avenue. Flatbush and Atlantic is the Barclays Center. I predict traffic is going to be so jammed that you are going to be on Canal Street in Manhattan trying to get over the Manhattan Bridge. It is going to be crazy. People have to use public transportation.
Well, yes, but people have been saying that for years.

Lee continued:
Here is the thing, though: Here goes the Barclays Center [begins drawing on another napkin], so people can walk. All right, where we are, when you go out of here and you go straight down here, you see the Barclays Center, so people can walk from Fort Greene without taking public transportation. You can walk from Park Slope, you could walk from Cobble Hill, and you could walk from … what is after Cobble Hill?
Q. Carroll Gardens. Boerum Hill?
A. The Heights, too. So there are like seven neighborhoods that people can walk from. That’s a lot to draw from. The ­Barclays Center is going to be crazy.
On some nights, indeed, the arena will be "crazy," but I don't think that Brownstone Brooklyn is expected to supply a significant number of attendees; rather, Brett Yormark will be marketing to the region. And the jury's out as to whether exhortations to use mass transit, in the absence of safeguards such as residential permit parking, will do the trick.


  1. Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls, a documentary about the families of the four young women killed in the Birmingham bombing of 1963 is one of the most moving documentaries I have ever experienced. Yet when faced with questions about the aggrandizement of big business and the unfairness of eminent domain, Lee somehow pulls out his "priviledge" card (for want of a better word) and avoids any anger at the way the arena was created. Personally, I think it is a little sad; I wish he could see the dichotomy in his vision, but I guess he can't


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