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Basketball tournament on arena plaza Saturday never announced; noise intruded on long-planned community garden event

The 5 am start to the mural-painting block party Saturday was only one of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park-related intrusions that came without appropriate notice to neighbors that day.

To the surprise of many, the plaza outside the Barclays Center was turned over to a 12-hour event (including set-up): Nike's basketball Tournament of Champions, aka #ConquerAllCourts.

It came with a DJ and announcer, both amplified to the point where they could be heard one long block away, at Fourth Avenue.

That meant the sound was blaring on Pacific Street between Fourth and Flatbush avenues, and at the Brooklyn Bear's Garden, which just happened to have scheduled its 30-year anniversary party well before any word of the

"When the [Flatbush Avenue] traffic goes, you're gardening next to a highway," observed garden coordinator Jon Crow, indicating that gardeners were no strangers to noise while still carving out an oasis. "We've never ever had to put up with what happened yesterday. That was just stinkingly rude. They condemned people's homes to build the arena--put it inside the arena."

(Of course, the arena plaza is officially temporary; an office tower, B1, with an enclosed atrium, known as the Urban Room, is planned instead--though may never come. That would not have been as advantageous a place to put up a basketball court.)

No official notice

While Nike and the arena apparently got proper permits, the event was never officially announced to neighbors.

It was omitted on the August event calendar distributed in early July (see screenshot at left) to neighbors, and no updates were distributed. Nor was it mentioned on the Barclays Center web site.

(All calendars are provided as general information and subject to change without notice," stated the accompanying note from arena Community Affairs Manager Terence Kelly. Sure, but shouldn't they circulate distribute updates when something is intrusive?)

Crow said garden volunteers learned about the Nike event six days earlier from a police officer who stopped by during a protest rally.

He said he phoned Kelly early Saturday regarding a very loud 8 am sound check--the sound did go down somewhat--but said Kelly did not respond to further texts during the day.

The music, Crow said, "was not so bad, it was the announcer." Volunteers used funds raised in a bake sale to hire a musician for the party, "and you almost make us have to cancel that."

They didn't do so, and the musician and friends had amplification during the garden concert which started in the late afternoon and went past 8 pm, drawing some 50 attendees. "That said, in the background was the [intrusive] announcer," Crow recounted.

When Nike offered a pop-up store on Flatbush Avenue during All-Star weekend earlier this year, "people lined up outside the garden all night," Crow said, with some of them tossing their garbage in the garden. "This is second time we've been impacted by Nike."

The garden exhibit

When I stopped by in the morning--the garden was on my route, but I didn't know anyone would be there or that either event was planned--Crow in the video below described some photos showing the garden's history, and expressed qualms about the noise.

Visiting the tournament

Then, not long after 11 am, I crossed the street and shot a few minutes of the event on the arena plaza.

(I don't think it shows up on the video, but the music--and the announcer--both included language that was not, ahem, family-friendly. I'm not squeamish about the f-word, but this was a public event with kids around.)

One promotional announcement, from Nike's web site
Via Nike