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Showing posts from July, 2018

After WPIX quietly exits arena retail space, Barclays Center operators offering pop-ups at "Featured on Flatbush"

The Barclays Center, it seems, is trying to make lemonade out of lemons. After WPIX-TV vacated (with no announcement) the Flatbush Avenue retail space that was part of a "multi-year strategic partnership" announced in December 2014, now arena operators are offering pop-up space ("Featured on Flatbush") to local merchants as well as vendors associated with arena events.
Tyrel Kirkham, VP of global merchandising for BSE Global, which operates the arena, told The Bridge that the space was used in April for the UFC championship: "Based on the success of that event, we decided to really build up a platform. That’s where we came up with the idea to extend it well beyond just our programming, to open it up to our sponsors in addition to, and most importantly, the community."
He suggested it was a way for small businesses to get their start--of course, that depends on the terms. Applications are available here.
This space is adjacent to the team store. There was …

Forbes: Brooklyn Nets rank #36 among the world's 50 most valuable sports teams (and #6 in NBA)

From Forbes, a new 7/18/18 article (and list) on the world's 50 most valuable sports teams:
The biggest gainer among the 50 richest teams is the Rockets, who shot up 14 spots to No. 40 at $2.2 billion after Tilman Fertitta closed on his deal to buy the team in October. Fellow NBA teams, Brooklyn Nets ($2.3 billion) and Golden State Warriors ($3.1 billion), also jumped at least ten places, with the league’s international growth prospects the best of any U.S. sports league and big market franchises valued at record multiples of revenue. It's not just international growth, or even potential gambling revenue, it's that NBA teams are "paintings for billionaires," and one of them, Joe Tsai, was willing to pay (in stages) $2.3 billion for the Nets.

What's interesting is the ratio of team value to operating income, which suggests the Nets are overvalued. (Note that I find the Forbes calculations confusing.)

Consider that the teams more highly valued than the Nets are…

Nassau Coliseum in flux: no Nets preseason game; suggestion for Isles returning full-time for two years

As with the Barclays Center, the Nassau Coliseum is a "never-say-never" project. Remember how the arena operators were supposed to bring a minor league hockey team to Long Island? That didn't happen.

Or how the Islanders were supposed to play a certain number of games in Nassau or face a fine? That got papered over by the plan for a part-time home rink while the Belmont arena progresses.

Newsday's Jim Baumbach reported 7/7/18, in Brooklyn Nets won’t play preseason game at Nassau Coliseum, that a contractually obligated preseason game won't happen because the NBA has reduce the required number of preseason game, leaving one home game in Brooklyn

A spokesman for Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told Newsday, “We’re in conversation with BSE Global about alternative programming.” Nor has BSE Global, the operator of the Barclays Center and the Coliseum, conducted the required annual open Nets practice and a clinic, Baumbach reported; the company is working on future…

Two top executives in arena company among the many contributing to Adams 2021

The New York City Campaign Finance Board yesterday announced that reports are now live for 2021 New York City candidates, including all financial activity from January 13 to July 12, 2018.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, unopposed in his 2017 re-election and aiming at the 2021 mayoralty, has a lot of money, some $915,339, with Comptroller Scott Stringer, also aiming at the mayoralty, the only one close, raising $818,654.

Notably, among Adams's many contributors, Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global, which owns the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center operating company, contributed $5,100--the maximum--on 7/12/18.

Yormark previously contributed $2500 to Adams in 2015, and $2,475 to Public Advocate candidate Daniel Squadron (who unsuccessfully opposed arena foe Letitia James) in 2013. So this is more than twice as much.

Adams also received $5,100 on 7/2/18 from Maureen Hanlon, president of Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc., the enterprise that owns BSE Global. S…

State Comptroller's latest report on the Brooklyn economy shows significant improvement (yet continued pressures)

At the March 2010 groundbreaking for the Barclays Center, Gov. David Paterson cited an 11.2% unemployment rate in Kings County and declared, "As the buildings rise on Atlantic Yards the joblessness rate will fall right here in Brooklyn."

He was right--sort of--but correlation is not causation. The unemployment rate has dropped considerably, even as the buildings--an arena and four residential towers--have risen slowly.

And while the Barclays Center surely has a direct and indirect role in tourism and hospitality jobs, it's hard to see this project--or any project, frankly--as the main cause.

Yes, 64 new hotels have been built in Brooklyn. But most of the job growth in leisure and hospitality--which more than doubled between 2009 and 2017, adding 30,100 jobs--came from  restaurants and bars, presumably serving residents with more disposable income.

Rather, as a June 2018 report (also at bottom) from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli shows, Brooklyn is the beneficiary of s…

Does the Barclays Center symbolize (as per Harper's) "The Death of a Once Great City"?

So, I've been asked: what do you think of the treatment of Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards in author Kevin Baker's jeremiad in the July 2018 issue of Harper's, The Death of a Once Great City: The fall of New York and the urban crisis of affluence?

My answer: like much of the article, while I'm sympathetic to many of the sentiments and critiques--and the Barclays Center deserves enduring taint--it goes over the top and thus sacrifices credibility.

Consider the article's opening, which suggests that New York "is approaching a state where it is no longer a significant cultural entity but the world’s largest gated community, with a few cupcake shops here and there."

C'mon. However much we might bemoan the fate of some choice parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn--and the failure of public entities to invest in infrastructure and policies to foster a more equitably growing city--that's just hard to take seriously. (See Ben Adler's 7/12/18 essay in Ci…

Another Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park lesson for journalists: Stick with a subject. Do the reading. Show up.

Following up on the main lesson of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park for student journalists--"Go beyond stenography and be wary of manipulation"--I should try to answer another question: why is this such a difficult topic to cover?

Because of depth, and breadth.

A long period of time

What do I mean? This project was announced in 2003. I followed it, informally, until mid-2005, when I jumped in, first with a critique of New York Times coverage, then a precursor blog. I never intended to keep writing a blog (and freelance articles) this long. Now, I have no particular plan to stop; the project won't be done until perhaps the early 2030s.

So I have what's called institutional memory. Because I can remember--or search quickly for information--that positions me ahead of other reporters who can't devote time to in-depth work. And I'm fortunate--and unusual--in being able to focus on one project.

(Sure, it is possible, by dint of hard work, to become better informed on a …

An Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park lesson for journalists: be wary of manipulation

Also consider another lesson: Stick with a subject. Do the reading. Show up.

Preparing to meet with some journalism students, I began thinking: what is the main lesson of Atlantic Yards for journalists?

That lesson, I think, is linked to the five Atlantic Yards mantras I described in October 2017, which relate more generally to the project:
“Atlantic Yards is a never-say-never project.” “The devil’s in the details.” “It’s a very tight fit.” "The culture of cheating." "Power defines reality." The last of those mantras does connect to the journalistic lesson that I try to heed as a watchdog (though I can fall short):
"Go beyond stenography and be wary of manipulation."The power behind press releases
In other words, those with power to shape the agenda--generally, the developer and the government--are not necessarily giving it to you straight. So if you're just reprinting or summarizing their press releases, you're missing something. (Same goes for pre…

The Barclays Center oculus stays on overtime again, despite new measures

Two nights after a report that a new computer system to operate the Barclays Center oculus’s flashing ads and announcements had been installed and there “have been no issues for anyone,” the oculus malfunctioned, operating past midnight on Friday morning and disturbing neighbors trying to sleep on nearby Pacific Street.

Despite that new system, the lights flashed until about 1:30 am, leaving neighbors frustrated, just as they were earlier this year, which then led to pledges of progress.

Barclays Center VP for Communications Mandy Gutmann responded yesterday to residents:
Thanks for alerting us to the issue with the oculus. I was informed that our security leader at Barclays Center made the appropriate call and the oculus was off by 1:30 a.m. Nonetheless, our apologies for the disturbance early this morning.

As I had mentioned in this week’s Quality of Life Meeting, our new system is in place and running, which is a huge step forward. Unfortunately, one small detail was missed yesterd…

It's a business: Nets trade Jeremy Lin (international media magnet), Isaiah Whitehead (Coney Island native)

NetsDaily reported:
In a series of post-midnight tweets Friday, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Sean Marks has ended the Nets backcourt logjam, added two bigs, a first rounder in next year’s draft and two second rounders in 2020 ... all of it without cutting into their 2019 cap space.
Bottom line: The Nets traded Jeremy Lin and Isaiah Whitehead in two interrelated moves, dealing and swapping second rounders with Atlanta and engineering a salary dump that have them taking on Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur in exchange for the two picks. It may be a smart move in building a roster, but, again, it's another sign that basketball is a business.

Lin was a fan favorite and an international media magnet, and even ownership by Joe Tsai (minority owner now, slated to be majority), who calls Lin his favorite player, didn't stop the trade.

Whitehead was born and raised in Coney Island, and could play in his home borough and link to that Coney basketball tradition.

None of that necessari…

What's missing from the Times's summary of public assistance for arenas (Belmont, Coliseum, Barclays)

Yesterday, accompanying a print article about a proposed soccer stadium headlined online as
Hunt for New York City F.C.’s Stadium Site Is Back Where It Began: the Bronx, the New York Times published an online-only sidebar headlined So Many Seats, So Many Tax Breaks.
That article has the subheading "New York City is considered one of the country’s most crowded market for sports stadiums and arenas — many of which have been built with sizable public assistance in the form of free land, tax breaks and cash." But the analysis is incomplete.
Let's take a look at three of them, with the Times squibs republished in full.
The Islanders' new arena
From the Times: Belmont Park Arena
Location: Elmont, N.Y.
Year It Will Open: Projected 2021
Seats: 18,000
The arena, planned as the new home for the New York Islanders, is part of a proposed $1 billion complex, to be built by Sterling Equities and Oak View group and their partners. It would be located eight miles from Nassau Coliseum. Wh…

Project updates: retail, open space, railyard work, a truck gets moved, AY CDC schedule fuzzy

Well, the main news from the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting 7/10/18 concerned the murky timetable and some coming demolitions, but I wanted to add a few more details.

Retail updates

Ashley Cotton, a former Forest City New York executive now representing the company while working for L&L MAG, said that one of the coming tenants at 550 Vanderbilt, the bar Beer Street, will soon be coming to Community Board 8 for its advisory opinion on a liquor license.

She said news is “hopefully coming soon” regarding retail tenants at 535 Carlton, but would not provide details. As reported, the retailer/cafe/eatery Mekelburg’s was exploring a liquor license, with neighbors concerned about a possible 4 am closing.

Open space

Regarding plans to create open space at Times Plaza, just across from the arena, she said that the Department of Transportation is “still reviewing that design.” That …

No new insight on timetable, but two buildings finally coming down, some infrastructure finished

Also see follow-up article on other meeting topics.

A few signs of progress, notably completed infrastructure and a coming demolition, were announced at last night’s bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting. But they were dwarfed by the persistent question marks about the project’s timing.

What are the plans of Greenland USA, the 95% owner of the Greenland Forest City Partners joint venture going forward, company official Scott Solish was asked.

Solish deflected the question, saying the company’s focus as of now is on B4, the huge tower planned for the northeast corner of the arena block and targeted to start in the spring of 2019. It is expected to rise 511 feet and contain some 825,000 square feet, enough for at least 750 apartments.

According to tentative plans circulated in 2014, that tower would contain 551 rental units, half of them affordable, plus 213 condos, but that configuration likely will change.

“As we push forward on that, we’ll have more news,” So…

When will the first round of Atlantic Yards EB-5 investors be paid back? It's been (at least) seven years

Given discussion of EB-5 investors in various projects who want to get their money back, well, what about the first round of Atlantic Yards EB-5 investors, the 456 people, mostly from China (plus a small number from South Korea), who invested $500,000 each around 2010/2011?

The deadline seems to be approaching, if it hasn't already been surpassed. As I wrote in December 2011, the maturity date was the fifth anniversary of the final advance of loan funds, with a potential two-year extension, as indicated in the screenshot below.

When was the final advance of loan funds? Unclear. 
The loan agreement was dated 10/5/10 and amended 5/27/11, as indicated in the screenshot below. It's unclear if that amendment--or any later, undisclosed, amendment--changed the timetable.
If the final advance of loan funds was in 2010, well, that's more than seven years. But maybe it was slightly later.
The Atlantic Yards funding was officially announced 7/15/11, by the New York City Regional Cent…