Of course, the Nets, scheduled for 41 regular-season games and possible ?playoffs, are only one entrée on the Barclays Center’s menu. By the end of its first year, the arena will have hosted more than 200 events, including concerts, NCAA basketball games (the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament and the University of Kentucky vs. the University of Maryland), Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, Disney on Ice, boxing matches and more. Markowitz says that means 2,000 jobs at the arena, most of them for low-income locals. He acknowledges that most will be part time but points to the many services and suppliers the arena will need, as well as the spillover effect on the area. “Think of all the jobs that will be created by 18,000 to 19,000 people going to games and events,” he says.
Even if the Nets won every game and created 20,000 jobs, that wouldn’t satisfy critics of Barclays Center like Norman Oder, a reporter and blogger who has followed the project doggedly (www.atlanticyardsreport.com). In thousands of posts, Oder has slammed the Barclays project, questioning the use of government subsidies and tax breaks, and has accused Ratner of “moving the goalposts” in his promises about the arena. There’s also the group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, which sued but failed to stop Ratner’s company from using the threat of eminent domain to force the sale of hundreds of properties as a way to secure the blighted land for the arena. And the documentary film Battle for Brooklyn accused Ratner of a “land grab” aided by “sweetheart deals.”
Michael Pintchik, whose family has owned businesses near the Barclays site for a century, initially was uneasy about the influx of crowds and traffic into the neighborhood but now believes the benefits will far outweigh the hassles. Pintchik sold three buildings in the arena’s footprint to Ratner and is fielding plenty of inquiries from people who want to buy into the Barclays boom.
“I’ve been besieged by New York restaurateurs who want an address on Flatbush Avenue,” says Pintchik. “That started before the arena was a factor, but the arena has certainly accelerated the pace. Some of the most famous names in Manhattan will sign up in the next year.”
Amid all the hype, hope, hip-hop and lawsuits, what about the team itself? How important is it for the Nets to start with a winning season? “We need to own Brooklyn,” says Yormark. And while Markowitz predicts “a great rivalry” between the Nets and the Knicks, he thinks Brooklyn will show up big regardless of the Nets’ record. “Hey, it looks like they’ll be competitive. But even if they’re not, they’re still our team.”
Editor's Note: The Brooklyn Nets' first home game against the New York Knicks this season, originally scheduled for Nov. 1 but postponed due to Hurricane Sandy's impact on New York City in late October, will now be played at the Barclays Center on Monday, Nov. 26.
Chris Tucker is a Dallas-based writer, literary consultant and commentator for KERA 90.1 FM, National Public Radio.