The new Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn opened in late September, garnering cheers from elected officials, most architecture critics and guests who have gone to see Jay-Z, the Rolling Stones and the revamped Brooklyn Nets, relocated from New Jersey and contenders in their NBA division.
However, the story behind the arena, and the larger $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project, slated to include 16 towers over 22 acres, is darker. In New York, the government has supplied far less direct subsidy than in other jurisdictions — just look to Miami, which paid for more than 80 percent of the Marlins’ new stadium—but the overall deal still shows how the public interest can be clouded when government agencies welcome a new “hometown team” and an ambitious development tethered to a sports facility.
This watchdog blog, by journalist Norman Oder, offers analysis, commentary, and reportage about the $4.9B project to build the Barclays Center arena and 15-16 towers at a crucial site in Brooklyn. Dubbed Atlantic Yards by developer Forest City Ratner in 2003, it was rebranded Pacific Park Brooklyn in 2014 after the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group bought a 70% stake going forward. As of 2018, after the arena and four towers were built, Greenland will own 95% of future construction.