Skip to main content

Featured Post

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

As Barclays Center belatedly swaps oculus ads for MLK quote, (arena operating company) owner Tsai offers careful statement: peaceful dialogue at arena plaza is "good with me" (plus new tweet on #BLM)

After ten days of protests against police brutality, and periodic criticism from protesters (plus some praise), the Barclays Center yesterday finally took some steps to indicate some sympathy with protesters, and to tamp down the incessant commercialism blaring from ads in the oculus that seemed dissonant with the protests.
Well, compared to saying #blacklivesmatter, something the long resistant-to-change NFL has recently done, offering a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, "The time is always right to do what is right," seems weak tea, but it's a lot more compared to what the New York Knicks have done.

Not  everyone was impressed.
A statement from Tsai

After a statement (along with the NBA and other teams) denouncing racial discrimination 5/31/20, after two days of demonstrations, Joe Tsai, owner of the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center operating company, yesterday issued a careful statement that got huge play.

Barclays Center is at the heart of NYC protests, and Joe Tsai approves, yesterday wrote New York Daily News NBA reporter Kristian Winfield. The article didn't delve into the ambiguities of the arena's position--like the criticism of the ads.

And to the extent that "approves" is the same as "good with me" (the actual Tsai quote), it doesn't necessarily translate to "happy" to see arena "become Brooklyn's hub of non-violent protest," as the paper's back cover suggests. (There's not a lot of sports news these days.)

The article somehow suggested the arena suffered less damage than the Brooklyn Public Library, which, as I posted on Twitter, seemed unrealistic. (I couldn't find anything regarding damage at the library.)

Note that the tweet I embedded has been removed, but see photos of a fire, graffiti, and a dislodged wayfinding sign in the Daily News' own coverage, screenshot at right.

Owner generosity?

From the article:
No one, of course, has permission to do anything at Barclays Center without the OK from Joe Tsai, the cofounder and executive vice chairman of Alibaba who became 100% owner of the Brooklyn Nets in 2019.
The cement blocks outside his building have become a canvas for those who feel their voices have gone unheard. Tsai empathizes. So long as it’s peaceful, he is a champion for those protesting at Barclays.
Yes, Tsai as owner of the arena operating company controls the publicly accessible, privately owned space at the plaza, as well as the arena, which is nominally publicly owned (to get tax-exempt financing).

But it's not like the Barclays Center would've been able to build a wall at the plaza, so they had to go along. And given the arena's slow response, it's hard to see Tsai as a "champion" rather than someone who figured out how to bend with the trend.

The statement

Here's the written statement:
“Those of us who cannot possibly experience the personal pain and indignity of racism towards black people feel a sense of helplessness as frustration and anxiety reach a boiling point. But it does not mean that we sit idle,” Tsai said in a statement to The Daily News.

“We have said that we will use the voice and platform of the Nets, Liberty and Barclays Center to facilitate empathy and dialogue. In Brooklyn, the Plaza at Flatbush and Atlantic has become a place for people to assemble and have their voice heard. If it continues to serve as a place where everyone from our community – from residents to businesses to police alike – gather peacefully to listen to each other and find common ground, then it’s good with me.”
As I wrote on Twitter, "gather peacefully to listen to each other and find common ground" is not an accurate reading of *some* of what's gone down in past week, especially in first days of #BarclaysCenter #blacklivesmatter protests. See this. Cops pepper sprayed protesters, including legislators. Some protesters threw bottles at cops, at the arena, and elsewhere burned vehicles.

As Jake Offenhartz wrote for Gothamist about the protests in general, "In both the level of rage from demonstrators and total lack of restraint from NYPD, last night’s protest was unlike anything I’ve seen in NYC."

A business decision

As one critic wrote on Twitter, Tsai hasn't always been in favor of free expression:
Update: a tweet from Tsai



Comments