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Scenes from outside the New York Liberty season opener: plaza truncated; new players to promote; snags on Dean Street

The New York Liberty, the anchor tenant of the Barclays Center for the next months, are a WNBA superteam and, based at least on the home debut May 21, have a better chance of selling out the arena's lower bowl. drawing an announced 8,575.

As I wrote, the team, owned by Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai, drew 5,327 last year, a significant improvement over the previous year but still below the midpoint of the league. The Athletic reported that the Liberty tout a 200% increase in season-ticket sales.  

When I walked by, shortly before the 2 pm game time, I saw the arena plaza cordoned off with fencing (as shown in the photo at right), limiting access to ticketholders, including a basketball court, various souvenir booths, and photo opportunities.

That's par for the course with other major events, so it's not surprising; it's just another reminder that the "public" plaza is not so public when the arena operators need it for business reasons.

New players to promote

I also noticed, as shown in the photo at left, that the "wrap" of images along the arena's Flatbush Avenue flank near the plaza (and also near an alternative arena entrance), now features the Liberty's squad.

Note: at far left, holding the basketball, is Breanna Stewart, who scored 45 points in the Liberty's 90-73 win over the Indiana Fever.

That does not, by the way, cement the Liberty as a superteam: they did lose their road opener and ESPN's power ranking places them fifth in the 12-team league, with the Fever dead last.

Along Dean Street

Around the back of the arena, few ticketholders were entering--perhaps because they didn't qualify for (pay for) the CLEAR access.

I did notice some traffic backups and honking, as shown in the video below, as some cars lined up to get into the two small garages closest to the arena: turning left to the garage at 38 Sixth Ave., or turning right to the garage at Heritage Dean Street.

It wasn't as much of a mess as some Nets games and other events, but it's another reminder that there's just not much margin for error. (Note: I estimated in the video that they might draw 6,000-7,000, but the announced attendance--tickets distributed, not gate count--was 8,575.)


More photos of the plaza

Another panel of players