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Building a Super-Premium Arena for a Booming Boro's Brand

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Brooklyn's Barclays Center is just weeks away from its opening with a string of dates by micro-fractional owner Jay-Z, and NYMag has a big-picture article on what the arena means for Brooklyn. The fighting is over and Ratner and partners have won the battle. Writer Will Leitch, who lives in Brooklyn, wonders about the transformation of the "mostly empty and sad" area around the arena, at "that gnarled Fourth Avenue–Flatbush Avenue–Atlantic Avenue intersection" and estimates its prospects for success. Developer Bruce Ratner isn't wondering anything. He is sure that in a century, "Brooklyn is going to be an epicenter of this country, and this place will be at the middle of that. No one will care what we had to do to make it happen." In effect, Ratner is bucking to become the anti-Walter O'Malley—the reviled Dodgers owner who moved the Bums out of Brooklyn and off to LA.

That sounds just fine to Brooklyn Boro President Marty Markowitz, who comes off sounding less interested in getting the Nets to Brooklyn than using the NBA as just the opening move in a bid to get the Dodgers back to Brooklyn and mending a slight from several generations ago. "'It corrects the great mistake of 1957, when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to La-La Land,' he said. 'This is redemption. This is Brooklyn getting its respect back.'"

There's a strong possibility that, even with Jay Z cheering from the super-premium Vault Lounge membership seats, the Brooklyn Nets will still suck at basketball, despite the geographic move from Jersey. That's why the hip hop impresario has been given such a broad public role in branding the new team, and also the arena. With a string of high-profile concerts already scheduled for Barclays in its opening months (e.g., Barbara Streisand, Justin Bieber, Jay Z, etc.), Barclays wants to be about more than just a second-tier basketball franchise whose threshold for successful season is gaining entry to the NBA playoffs. It wants to be a super-premium venue for A-listers and events of all kinds; one that will transform the surrounding neighborhood and giving a boost to an already booming borough.

Whatever happens, the arena is a classic urban fait accompli. It's built; and the changes, for good or bad, are happening. Whether anyone reviles or hails Bruce Ratner in Capital Brooklyn a century from now, remains to be seen.
· Game Time [NYMag]
· Barclays Center coverage [Curbed]

Barclays Center

Atlantic Avenue at Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY