After nearly nine years of fights, protests, lawsuits, and delays, the day is here. Bruce Ratner's Barclays Center is officially opening, whether you like it or not. Next week, Jay-Z will take the stage and a month later, the Nets will christen their new home. Keeping with tradition, we're on the scene to give you an up-to-the-minute account of the year's
most over-hyped most controversial biggest press event.
8:40: Used the new subway exit. It's like a magic portal to the arena. No more construction out front!
8:45: Whoa super long press line.
9:00 Reporters becoming very agitated at waiting and line jumpers. Let us in!!
[Photo by Will Femia.]
9:05: Small turnout of protesters, but they have clever signs.
9:13: Look who arrived! Reporter to them: "Go get a job!"
9:17: Through the metal detectors and we're credentialed!
9:19: First arena ever with a gluten free food stand?
9:20: Lots of cheery Barclays Center employees keep welcoming us.
9:22: First look at the court! Lights are off, too dark for photos. This place is huge!
9:25 No sign of any of the big players. Where are they hiding?
9:29 Found the food! Enjoyed a mini croissant before being told to take our seats.
9:30 Barclays PR people must like Curbed. We're in section A, right up front!
9:33: Overheard in press section: "Where are the giant scissors, man? I'm going to be upset if there are no giant scissors."
9:34: Nets player Brook Lopez passed by. He is incredibly tall.
9:35: Oh dear. Sat by a speaker. May be deaf when this is over.
9:37: Ratner takes the stage. Big moment when they turn the lights on!
9:40 Talking about the awesome things they did to make this place happen. Calls Barclays "the most architecturally beautiful arena in this nation."
9:41 Calls Mikhail Prokhorov the best partner ever. Lots of self congratulating.
9:42: Ratner says championships will be won here. Hmm, perhaps he's unfamiliar with the Nets. Still, lots of cheers.
9:43: Says community groups "held their heads high and stuck with the dream."
9:43: Bloomberg apparently bought the most expensive tickets in the place. Ratner almost called him Mr. President.
9:45: Bloomberg takes the stage. Shouts "Is Brooklyn on the house?" Starts talking about how great the public transit to Barclays is. They really want people to take the subway.
9:47: They are projecting the speakers on the jumbotron. It's a very crisp picture.
9:48: Bloomie starts talking about how Barclays will kickstart Atlantic Yards...
9:50: Ratner is back on the stage, introducing the "Russian oligarch." Dun dun dun!
9:51: Prokhorov compares the opening of Barclays to the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. Says Barclays will be the heart of Brooklyn. Everything will happen here.
9:54: Marty Markowitz takes the stage. Calls Ratner "cousin Brucey" Very colorful, classic Marty speech. Also very loud.
9:57: Markowitz compares the last eight years of building Barclays to riding the Cyclone.
10:00: Compares DoBro to Midtown, says it's a center of the city. Tries speaking in Russian. Crowd laughs. "That's Russian with a Brooklyn accent."
10:05: Governor Cuomo sent a rep. More thanking and boring speeches. Yawn.
10:15: Forest City chairman is very long winded. He's getting very emotional.
10:17: Community rep now on the stage. These speeches are getting really old. Can the tours start yet?
10:24: No sign of Jay-Z. Perhaps it's too early for him?
10:30: Barclays Center CEO says Arena employees are being trained by the Disney institute. That explains the super cheery greetings.
10:32: Ratner says the first residential building groundbreaking will be on December 18.
10:33: iPhone pictures don't do the jumbotron screen justice. But it's more entertaining than the speeches.
10:35: Ratner thanking everyone. Voice starts breaking. He's crying.
10:38: Big scissors! Ribbon cut. There was confetti.
10:44: Tours starting soon. Better view of the court:
10:50 The tour starts outside. Group A has Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP Architects as our guide. Talking about how Barclays tries to match the surrounding neighborhood.
10:54 The oculus is bigger than a basketball court. Talk of how the center's logo looks like a health care logo.
10:55: The digital board can show anything. SHoP has suggested movies and live streaming from prospect park shows. This giant plaza will be open to the public and have cafe-style seating when there's not an event.
10:58: Back inside. Can actually see the atrium now that it's not filled with press people.
11:00: These concessions ate making us hungry: Fatty Cue, Paisanos, Brooklyn Farmacy, Calexico
11:02: Wonder how long the "new building smell" will last.
11:04: Steel panels open up in some areas to let you see out.
11:05: In a suite! Probably the first and last time we'll be in one of these.
11:09: All the way down in the club area. All the important people are enjoying food and partying while the press is herded along.
11:10: On the court level! But sadly we can't go on the floor.
11:13: It's shiny!
11:15: We're being watched by the construction workers.
11:16: Pasquarelli says Jay-Z was very involved, very easy to work with. He really wanted it to feel like Brooklyn. He had lots of opinions, even weighed in on how the silverware felt.
11:18: Passed Marty on the stairs. "Beautiful!" he says.
11:20: Practice court is visible right from an entrance along Atlantic. Currently being used for feeding important people and a violinist. Can be used by local groups, apparently.
11:22: "This is the last stop on the tour. There's the door." Alrighty then. Curbed out!
11:30: Ah, now we understand why the Daily News was fawning over the arena. Dozens of bricks on the public plaza are imprinted with its logo.
· Barclays Center coverage [Curbed]
· Inside the New, Very Empty, Barclays Center Subway Station [Curbed]