Skip to main content

Former Prokhorov deputy Pavlova: "we did look into" making Barclays "hockey-friendly"

There's an interesting anecdote on the Brooklyn Nets fan podcast, The Glue Guys, in the Irina Pavlova Exit Interview, interviewing the recently departed (after seven years) president of ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment, the holding company (owned by Mikhail Prokhorov) for the Nets, Barclays Center, and other properties.

The segment starts at about 8:26. One host asks if, in retrospect, there's anything that could have changed about the move of the Nets from New Jersey to Brooklyn.,

"I am satisfied how it's worked out, I mean, obviously, leaving basketball aside," Pavlova said. "There are a few things that we would have changed about the arena if we could. But at the point we got involved, it was already a done deal. So we couldn't go back and redo the drawings."

Remember, Forest City Ratner (led by Bruce Ratner) and parent Forest City Enterprises were the majority owners of the arena, and had already decided (in 2008) to swap Frank Gehry's larger two-sport arena (850,000 square feet) for the Ellerbe Becket (plus SHoP) basketball-focused 670,000 square foot arena, by the time Prokhorov's deal was announced in September 2009.

The arena groundbreaking was in March 2010.

Reaching out to the Islanders

"We did look into making it hockey-friendly, and we did reach out to [New York Islanders owner] Charles Wang at the time," Pavlova said. "And he wasn't interested."

That's surely because Wang was expecting Nassau County voters to approve a referendum for a new Nassau Coliseum to house the Islanders, as well as other development components. But they said no in August 2011.

Then Wang had to get creative.

By July 2012, before the 9/28/12 opening concert, a construction monitor reported that the Barclays Center would have "revised dasherboards" (the walls of the rink) to meet National Hockey League regulations, a sign--in retrospect, at least--that discussions between Barclays Center operators and Wang were ongoing.

The Islanders' move--portrayed as an ironclad 25-year lease, though with an opt-out that can be exercised after three or four years--was announced in October 2012. Now the Islanders are said to be seeking to build, with partners, a new arena next to the Belmont racetrack.

In retrospect, some irony (plus some $$$)

"I think it's kind of ironic now," Pavlova reflected. "Because it's not like we were making a forward commitment. We were just asking if there was a chance you might been interested. If he had said yes at that point, we probably would've made it more hockey-friendly. But at the point we got involved, it would have meant a construction delay and another, I think, about $50 million."

That's interesting. The arena operators/builders--remember, the state is the nominal owner, to enable tax-exempt bonds--would have had to (I speculate) adjust the seating configuration, the sight lines, and perhaps even the scoreboard, so it could be centered, rather than awkwardly skewed to one direction of the hockey rink.

Also, the money (presumably) would have enabled the builders to install steel piping to meet NHL standards for ice, rather than use the cheaper PVC piping, which has prompted so much criticism and consternation for producing choppy, inconsistently cold ice.

However, they could not have changed the overall configuration of the building. A larger building would have cost well more than $50 million, but... $50 million would have been significant. (Those revised dasherboards cost all of $155,652.)

That said, the overall cost to the arena builders/operators would have been far more than $50 million. The Nets would have had to have spent another season--or part of a season--in Newark, and the owners of the team would have had to absorb losses.

Though Prokhorov owned 80% of the team and Forest City 20%, the Nets were already losing more than Prokhorov agreed to fund, so that would have been on Forest City.

More costs to consider

Moreover, a delayed opening would have delayed revenue from high-profile concerts and sponsorships in Brooklyn. And it may have triggered some contractual givebacks from sponsors who'd been told the arena was opening in September 2012.

So the tab would have grown. $150 million? 200 million? In the long run, that might have been a reasonable expenditure, if it guaranteed solid attendance at Islanders games and attendant sponsorships.

But public companies like Forest City, at least, don't necessarily think in the long run, since they have investor expectations to meet. And Forest City had already gone out on a significant financial limb buying property for and funding the overall Atlantic Yards project. (Remember, new partner/overseer Greenland was not yet on board.)

So it's understandable, and reasonable, why the arena was not revised more to accommodate hockey. It just looks, with the vantage point of hindsight, to be a short-sighted decision.


Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.


Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2017: no new towers, unfilled affordable units, Islanders prepare to leave, project timetable fuzzy

My 2018 preview.

It was another wait-and-see year for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, with one big twist--the beginning of a slow goodbye for the New York Islanders--but continued delays for towers, a lost (mostly) 421-a subsidy for condos, and new skepticism about unfilled not-so-affordable housing units.

So ongoing questions linger regarding the project's pace, affordability, and even future ownership.

In my 2017 preview, I predicted--not exactly going out on a limb--that two and likely three more towers would open, though it would be unclear how fast they'd lease up and sell.

Indeed, we've learned that the middle-income below-market units at 461 Dean (which opened in 2016) and 535 Carlton have leased very slowly, while it's too soon to assess progress for commensurate units at 38 Sixth. (At 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth, middle-income units make up half the "100% affordable" buildings.) Meanwhile, many apartments are up for rent at the 550 Vanderbilt condo buildin…