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Barclays Center round-up: Gratz on the bait-and-switch; gluten-free; blight on the sidewalk; costly suite snacks; a book about the Nets' first season; update on activists

Author and urbanist Roberta Brandes Gratz wrote a 10/5/12 column on Citiwire, The Great Brooklyn Bait-and-Switch:
With at least $305 million in public subsidies already (yet no Tea Party complaints have been heard here), Ratner promises to break ground in December and meet a legal deadline on the first residential tower, with additional public subsidies which might provide 181 affordable units. Note, however, that 171 affordable units were bulldozed to make way for the project. Public funding here, in the form of tax-exempt bonds, means less of that limited funding will be available elsewhere in the city, where it could buy more units. No Ratner money will go into fulfilling what is a fraction of that original commitment for 2,250 units.
But the real point in all of this – if you can look past the broken promises, excessive use of public funds and a process in which this huge development was never approved by an elected government body – is that it uses a failed and destructive approach to urban change. Much more is lost than is gained, including the opportunity to do it right with minimum damage.
From the start, a wrongful definition of blight was applied.
...By the definition of “blight” allowed here, most of Brooklyn and many areas of New York City could be declared blighted. Not much seems to stand in the way of this bad project beyond occasionally successful civic resistance, rare court victories or the possibility of financial implosion.
The Brooklyn Paper

Synergy in this week's Brooklyn Paper at right, with an article about the Barclays Center plus a sponsored news article.

(Really, the opening of the arena should've been front-page news, though it was teased there, with the gluten-free article below on the front.)

Going gluten-free

The Brooklyn Paper reports, in a 10/4/12 article headlined Barclays Center concession will serve organic, gluten-free food:
Snack vendors at the Barclays Center plan to serve organic pumpkin seeds and gluten-free beer and hot dogs from a portable cart, says the company providing grub at the new home of the Brooklyn Nets.
The firm Levy Restaurants decided to make the new arena the only NBA stadium with an organic-and-gluten-free concession after conducting a survey that revealed a demand for foods that would fit right in on the shelves of the Park Slope Food Co-op.
...The diet-conscious cart-on-wheels will feature a Kinnikinnick-bunned hotdog that’s gluten free ($5.95), cheesy popcorn that’s fine for folks suffering from celiac disease ($4.95), and Redbridge beer made without wheat or barley ($9) after the basketball season begins this fall.
...Levy Restaurants previously set up gluten-free carts baseball and soccer stadiums in Seattle, Chicago, and Salt Lake City — but the concession will be the first of its kind for hoops fans.
The New York Post reported, in a 10/5/12 article headlined Nice feed by Nets:
The gluten-free offerings will include beer ($9), hot dogs ($5.25) and chocolate bars and other snacks ($4.75) as part of a well-received effort by arena officials to offer Brooklyn-centric food.
...News of the health-conscious Barclays food received rave reviews from arena neighbors yesterday — especially members of the Park Slope Food Co-op.
“Normally, I would never buy food in an arena because it’s junk, but it’s really exciting to know there’s healthy food there,” said Barbara Mazor, who led the fight earlier this year to block a controversial boycott of Israeli products at the cooperative.
Nothing like beer, hot dogs, and chocolate bars when you're going "healthy."

The soda ban

The Village Voice reported 10/2/12, You Can Get a 1,200-Calorie Burger at Barclays Center. But You Can't Get a 20-Ounce Soda:
Mayor Mike Bloomberg's ban on big-boy cups for non-diet sodas at New York City restaurants, theaters, and sports venues has yet to take effect. However, the newBarclays Center arena in Brooklyn already is voluntarily adhering to the new guidelines, which limit cup sizes for "sugary drinks" to 16 ounces.
But don't worry, fatsos -- while you can't get a 20-ounce Pepsi, you can still get a 1,200-calorie burger.
...But let's say you want to keep things simple with your standard Nathan's hotdog -- you're still consuming more calories (296) than you would if you were to drink a Bloomberg-banned 20-ounce Pepsi, and that's assuming you add no condiments.
In fact, you'd be pretty hard pressed to find any food item at Barclays Center that has fewer calories than a 20-ounce Pepsi...
Some costly suite snacks: $46 for peanuts

Ryan Sutton writes on The Price Hike:
We know these are large format snacks, but ask yourself this: Did you ever drop $26-$46 on peanuts while entertaining friends? Didn’t think so. So we’ll call this one a STRONG SELL. Oh, prices are not reflective of a 20% administrative charge.
Allow us to suggest a menu addition: SMALLER PORTIONS, LOWER PRICES.
FYI: A reply to this post by another Tumblr user says that these are standard prices for corporate suite dining. Be that as it may, we’re gonna say $46 is still rather spendy for peanuts. Just because everyone else jumps of a bridge… .
From Michael D.D. White's Noticing New York

9/29/12: Report: How The Times Expunged Its Own First Draft Of History On “Barclays” Center Opening To Replace It With The Pro-Ratner Narrative It Favors

10/1/12: New York Times Ghost Article: The Searchable Remnants On The Web Of Banished (Anti-Ratner/Anti-Jay-Z?) “Barclays” Center Opening Article

10/2/12: Scourge of Sidewalk Cracks, Once Used As Excuse To Clear Neighborhood For Ratner, Now In Evidence At Brand-Spanking-New “Barclays” (LIBOR) Center:
The frightful scourge of sidewalk cracks, the excuse that was used to clear a neighborhood for its takeover by Forest City Ratner is now very much in evidence around the brand-spanking-new Ratner/Prokhorov “Barclays” (Libor) Center arena. Oh my! Wasn’t everyone promised that if the neighborhood were eliminated, Ratner’s munificence, exemption from taxes, and superior ownership abilities would mean that we wouldn’t have to continue to live with sidewalk cracks?
10/3/12: Media and Activists: Putting The News Of The Jay-Z Concert Opening Of The “Barclays” Center In Context:
Until Ratner’s monopoly is taken away from him nobody has the power to enforce promises, to demand quality, keep costs in check, or to get back our public streets and sidewalks.
The Observer on the protests

The Observer's Kit Dillon wrote A Party, a Vigil, a Protest, a Concert: the Festivities and Fanaticism of the Barclays Center Opening, dated 9/28/12 but clearly updated after a few days:
But the fears of New York surrounding Hurricane Barclays may have been much like fears of New York surrounding another recent hurricane warning, memorable more for it’s bluster than it’s blow.
To date Jay-Z has given three concerts in a staggering series of eight nearly back to back shows (he is taking one night off on Oct. 2, which seems a rational step for a 42 year old man) and so far they have gone off with only minor hitches and no major traffic jams. There did seem to be an unconfirmed police ramp-up on Saturday to help control the after show crowds that poured across Atlantic Avenue, either unknowing or uncaring of the Escher like crosswalks that zig-zag across the strange intersections created by the arena and the confluence of so many major streets.
Likewise there were sporadic reports of idling limos and tour buses encroaching on the once quiet residential side streets. A quiet, which is in all likelihood a thing of the past for this neighborhood. Then again, Park Slope is still a part of New York.
...Not that Barclays didn’t find a way to reach out and perturb a greater Brooklyn by firing a not insubstantial, FAA-permit-required laser at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in nearby Fort Greene Park. It was a move that makes sense in it’s necessity (you can’t have a laser just shooting anywhere it pleases) but staggers in its acute cultural and historical insensitivity. It was a direct hit that was reported both by Norman Oder and the Post. “You wouldn’t want to see a laser on the Vietnam Monument in Washington,” Ruth Goldstein, founding chairwoman of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, told the tab.
It was new new Brooklyn taking a shot at old new Brooklyn and old old Brooklyn all in one single, surprising, impressive, incipient millisecond.
A book about the Nets' first season

The New York Observer reported 9/28/12, Jake Appleman Nets a Book Deal
Sportswriter Jake Appleman has inked a deal with Scribner to cover the Brooklyn Nets debut season. Mr. Appleman has written about basketball for The New York Times,, Vibe and NBC Sport and is a senior writer at SLAM magazine. Mr. Appleman tweeted the news this afternoon.
Other sportswriters throughout Brooklyn are surely kicking themselves right about now for not writing that book proposal they thought of back when they first heard that the Nets were moving to Brooklyn.
...Update: “Inside the Nets first season, set to the backdrop of gentrifying Brooklyn,” Mr. Appleman described the book in an email. “It’s been a blast so far. Very excited for the season
MSG v. Barclays

From the New York Post, 10/4/12, MSG belts Barclays with its own suite life:
Just days after the rapper helped Brooklyn’s Barclays Center steal some of the city’s entertainment buzz with a gala opening, Madison Square Garden is moving to prove it is still the center of the sports and concert universe.
The World’s Most Famous Arena is ready to take the wraps off 58 new lower-bowl, open-air luxury suites — and executives are boasting the spaces, up to 620 square feet, top anything Barclays is offering.
...[Hank] Ratner is referring to the fact that in the new Madison Level Suites, the court or rink is visible from any point inside the suite.
That is not true in any other suite around the New York City area — even Barclays’ much-ballyhooed Jay-Z-designed Vault suites.
The new, closer-to-the-action Garden luxury suite — just 23 rows away from the court versus five stories away for the older suites — are part of the ongoing $1 billion top-to-bottom transformation project.
Ratner declined discussing prices, but industry sources said the “Madison Level Suites” have leased for up to $700,000 a year. That’s nearly twice the rate of the old suites and much more than what Barclays was able to charge.
USA Today on Ratner and the Nets

USA Today reported 9/27/12, Nets return major pro team sports to Brooklyn:
"Even I underestimated the power of Brooklyn. Brooklyn is the only place that's a non-city or non-state in this country that has its own team, and it's the only place that could," Ratner said.
With 2½ million residents, Brooklyn is the most populous of the five New York boroughs. Alone, it would be the USA's fourth-largest city.
"As big and as diverse as Brooklyn is, it was truly underserved in the area of sports and entertainment," Yormark said.
The Nets are on the verge of becoming a serious moneymaker.
"By virtue of this move, the Nets move into the top tier of performing teams in terms of revenue," Silver said. "While it's an enormously expensive venture, there's no question, over time, this will grow revenue for the benefit of the league and for the players and potentially set a new standard for teams around the league."
...Ratner won enough court and public relations battles to proceed. Many still oppose the development, and he realizes he won't win over everyone: "You had a controversy, and it was like watching an election. Who's going to win? It heightened the interest. There is some serendipity that, in a 10-year period, Brooklyn changed dramatically. It was remarkable before, but now it's beyond anything anybody could have imagined."
An update on "activists": Goldstein, Galinsky, O'Finn, Oder 

The Indypendent, 9/28/12 Activists Respond to Barclays Center Opening, some excerpts:
How are you feeling now that the arena's opening? 
[Daniel Goldstein, DDDB] I feel that Brooklyn has been swindled. And while I completely understand that there is some level of excitement about the arena, it doesn't justify the process by which we came to this day: the ongoing broken promises and the failures to deliver the promised and critically needed affordable housing and living-wage jobs. Sadly, this is no surprise to opponents of the project. While I'm not bitter about the arena, I am bitter and enraged about most of the media coverage of the Barclays opening, because most of these reporters are newbies. It's as if collective amnesia has hit the press corps, and few remember the corrupt manner in which this arena came to be. 
How are you feeling now that the arena's opening?
[Donald O'Finn, Freddy's Bar & Backroom] There's not much to say now; eulogies, perhaps. The corporations and the politicians won, the neighborhoods and the small business owners lost. I feel it's sad; I don't think that any small communities put up any better of a fight than we did against overwhelming odds, and I am very proud of that. The battle was lost, but the war continues, a war fought all over this country and world. And a war that we best not lose, or no one's property will be safe...
I always said the best neighborhoods were always the ones that grew organically from the efforts, struggles and lifetime investments of small time entrepreneurs, not large corporations.  
How are you feeling now that the arena's opening?
[Norman Oder] I'm a little dismayed that you're not asking me about the ongoing series, "Atlantic Yards & the Culture of Cheating," on my blog. The round-up page is here.
I don't think I count as an "activist."

Barbra in the Forward

In the 10/4/12 Forward, On a Clear Day You Can See Flatbush: Memories Light the Corners of Streisand’s Old Neighborhood:
Was the diva’s upbringing really as grim as she makes it sound? We’ll probably never know. But Streisand did “get out,” of course. In October, after a half-century spent performing anywhere but her native borough, Streisand returns to Brooklyn to perform at the Barclays Center, just blocks from where she was raised. Here, in honor of Streisand’s homecoming, is a tour of her old haunts — from the yeshiva where she sang her first concert to the Chinese restaurant where she first tasted moo shu pork.
There’s beauty in these streets, too, Barbra.