Skip to main content

Featured Post

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Barclays Center: limited access to arena plaza is "up to law enforcement"; oculus dimly lit at night "for safety purposes"

This is the fifth of several posts on the 6/9/20 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, the first ever virtual meeting, held on Zoom. The first concerned non-transparency. The second concerned the timing for new construction. The third concerned neighborhood checkpoints. The fourth concerned ongoing construction and social distancing.

Mandy Gutmann, spokeswoman for the Barclays Center, was asked about limited access to the arena plaza--with both the transit entrance and arena entrance guarded by mental fencing and cops during protests--and how long that will last.

"Ultimately that is up to law enforcement," she said. "Unless people are interfering with a Barclays Center event, or there are safety concerns, we would not take action to have someone removed from our plaza."

That generous policy seems generated by the reality that it's impossible to eject protesters, and with no ongoing arena events, there's no business reason.

Flexible rules?

Posted rules for the privately operated space prohibit amplified sound, destroying or marking any property, posting advertisements, and street performances—all, of course, violated in the past ten days.

As I noted in my essay yesterday for Bklyner, when I last year gathered a well-behaved group of 16 for a walking tour, we were bounced off the otherwise-deserted plaza by a cordial security team.

So it would be interesting to see if protesters challenging the government of China on issues like Hong Kong democracy and the treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority would be tolerated.

Note that Joe Tsai, the Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire (and San Diego resident) who owns the Brooklyn Nets and the arena operating company, has made his money in China by co-founding Alibaba and has very much echoed Beijing's line on Hong Kong.

That said, last October, some "150 demonstrators, who wore t-shirts that read 'Stand With Hong Kong' and 'Free Tibet' and stood periodically with their arms raised," were not ejected, as Gothamist reported.

About the oculus: advertising

"We have stopped running advertising for the time being, and we have a simple quote up from Martin Luther King," Gutmann said, referencing the 6/7/20 change, as noted in my essay, from discordant ads.

Note that "for the time being" indicates an understandably interim condition. I suspect that, not only did the arena recognize the criticism, its advertisers might have felt their ads were useless, and/or were not so comfortable with being associated with protests.

Perhaps protests will die down before events resume at the arena plaza--as I wrote, they could gather fans there when the Nets start playing in Orlando. It will be interesting to see if the King quote remains up.

About the oculus: on all night

"For everyone’s safety, we are keeping the oculus on all night, so everyone can see where they are going," Gutmann said, indicating a policy change, since the oculus is supposed to go dark between 12 midnight and 6 am.

"It is dimly lit at night," she said. "That is simply for safety purposes, for anyone who might be out there."

Also, I suspect, it helps protect the arena from any potential vandalism or incursions.

Arena efforts during COVID-19 cricis

"We’re trying to do our part in supporting the community" in the time of the coronavirus pandemic, she said. The arena agreed to pay hourly workers for the events they would've worked through May, "and that is continuing."

(As I wrote, the announcement of the extension was made aftere the original period expired, and the statement still hasn't been update.)

She cited Tsai's donation of millions of masks, and 2,500 ventilators to New York and other cities.

The arena donated about 10,000 pounds of unused food to City Harvest, and has been partnering with the Food Bank of NYC to host mobile food pantries on the arena plaza, distribuing meals, personal hygiene products, and NBA board games to nearly 1500 families. They plan to continue such efforts.

Also, she said, they've developed an online community resource hub, citing of programs and support systems in the categories of Education, Health & Wellness, Food, and Volunteer Opportunities.

The VMAs return in August?

"As we start to look at when the arena might host an event, I want to share that we are exploring hosting the MTV Video Music Awards on August 30," Gutmann said. "We are working through many conversations with government officials, the medical community, and key stakeholders on how to safely hold this event."

She said they'd share details when they know more. It seems unlikely a significant audience could attend. Last month, Variety reported:
While a traditional physical production is the goal, according to one source familiar with the plans, the network is keeping safety top of mind and exploring virtual performances and an audience-free show, among other contingency plans.