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)

In New Yorker account of fight over Penn Station and MSG, Barclays Center loading dock called superior. OK, but early praise unwise. New (suburban) arenas better.

The New Yorker yesterday published William Finnegan's The Fight Over Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, subtitled "How the effort to renovate midtown Manhattan’s transit hub has been stalled by money, politics, and disputes about the public good."

Dean Street, July 31, 2019
It's a fascinating article, on multiple levels, but one passage deserves clarification and explanation, because it unwisely sets up Barclays Center as a state-of-the-art alternative to MSG:
Madison Square Garden has been New York’s biggest stage for mass entertainment for nearly a hundred and fifty years, and, for the Dolans, it has been a lucrative property. As bad as the Knicks generally are, the arena is almost always full for games, with even nosebleed seats sometimes going for two hundred a pop. The Garden stages more than three hundred events a year, and many of its patrons arrive through Penn. Step off your train, find a working escalator (or walk up the stairs), and you’re there.

Yes, it’s the oldest arena in the N.B.A. Newer arenas, like the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, have freight elevators that can carry semi trucks straight to the event floor. The Garden’s elevators can’t accommodate modern trucks—hence all the semis parked across the sidewalks, depressing the neighborhood and complicating the setup for events. And yet the show goes on.

Dean Street, Oct. 18, 2017
Wait a sec. 

The record at Barclays

Yes, Barclays has two freight elevators that, when scheduled carefully, can accommodate trucks, buses, and vehicles for relatively small load-in, such as for a basketball game. 

That's an improvement over Madison Square Garden, but initial praise from critics upon the arena's 2012 opening didn't hold. 

New York's Justin Davidson wrote 9/21/12 that "the arena makes nice to the neighbors in various ways," including, "To avoid clogging roadways, trucks swing into the Dean Street loading docks and ride elevators to a massive underground turntable..."

But shortly after the arena opened, a representative of developer Forest City Ratner acknowledged 10/16/12, in response to complaints about unloading spread around at-grade operations near the loading dock, "I'm afraid the loading dock and truck traffic systems haven't been as successful as we would’ve hoped."

So it was unwise of New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman to write 10/31/12 that the arena was "technologically smart, with an underground turntable for trucks [that] reduces the number of backing up and double-parked 16-wheelers on nearby streets like Dean." 

Sure, reduces, but they weren't supposed to have any. At a public meeting three months before the arena opened, VP Steve Rosebook called the loading dock  “one-of-a-kind, so it demands a lot of attention.” There will be “a secured, private, web-based scheduling system,” he said. “If you're not scheduled to come into the building, you're going to get turned away.”

That didn't quite work. Events requiring a larger array of trucks, such as the Samsung event in 2019 (image at top), or simply a poorly scheduled truck, as shown above right from 2017, represent incursions on the neighborhood.

An urban arena vs. a suburban one

Barclays surely is superior to MSG, and is faced with a tight fit--the tradeoff for an arena that mostly relies on ticketholders using public transit.

But suburban arenas--which rely on driving--are superior for load-in (if not for environmental stewardship).

As I wrote 12/12/21, a recent Sports Business Journal article about the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park, the western edge of Nassau County cited a loading dock "with space for 10-plus trailers and seven loading bays with direct access to the arena floor."

Sports Business Journal cited that as clearly superior to MSG, where unloading is outside the arena, and even Barclays:  
Trucks and buses must park on sidewalks or wherever they can fit in the middle of Manhattan. Logistics are similar at Barclays Center, in crowded Brooklyn.
That wasn't quite fair, since Barclays has two bays, with elevators. But, as the article pointed out, a Drake tour with 27 trucks, or a Bruce Springsteen tour with 12, pose major challenges.

Hey, Springsteen is coming to Barclays on April 3. Let's see how they manage the trucks.