Barclays Back Story; Facts & TriviaThe "backstory" to the Barclays Center is as rich as any urban tale, complete with a decade of protest and opposition, the unexpected arrival of a moneyed Russian (six-and a-half foot tall, no less) to salvage the financially ailing project, and a rude, rusty, unbeautiful structure that somehow got built instead of a world class piece of urban architecture. It's a Brooklyn tale. Here are just a few of the facts and trivia behind the scenes at Brooklyn's new Barclays Center.
1. When Did the Nets Become the Brooklyn Nets?Among other firsts, Barclays Center is home to the Brooklyn Nets (formerly the New Jersey Nets), an NBA basketball team.
The Nets became the Brooklyn Nets in 2012.
The arrival of the Nets in Brooklyn in 2012 was heralded as the borough's first major sports team since dem bums, the then-Brooklyn Dodgers abandoned the borough for the West Coast in 1957 (breaking Brooklyn's collective heart) to become the Los Angeles Dodgers.
(Recommended reading: The Last Good Season: Brooklyn, the Dodgers, and Their Final Pennant Race Together by Michael Shapiro, Doubleday, 2003.)
2. Why is the Stadium Called Barclays Center? Is it British? A Bank?
The stadium is called the Barclays Center because the naming rights to the stadium were sold by the developer, Forest City Ratner Co., to Barclays, a major global financial services provider based in London. Media reports suggested that the naming rights cost Barclays $400 million.(Source: ESPN) The deal included a commitment by Barclays to help refurbish public basketball courts; according to The New York Times, the sum was $2.5 million for park renovation and other projects. Barclays Bank also sponsors the Premier League soccer in England.
If you're planning on going: Visitors Guide to Barclays Center
3. What's Jay-Z Got to Do with Barclays and the Nets?What's hip hop mogul Jay-Z got to do with with Barclays and the Nets? It turns out, a lot.
The rap star owns a small stake in the company. But he's also been a creative diva: Jay-Z helped design the logo for the Brooklyn Nets and the Nets gear on sale (featuring a stark, urban black and white feel). He is owner of the 40-40 Club chain, one of which is in the arena. It was also his aesthetic force that helped define the half-million dollar Vault suite seating areas. And, Jay-Z played a week of opening concerts when the Barclays Center finally opened its doors in September 2012, recycled as an album marking the occasion of the arrival of Brooklyn in the world of big commercial entertainment venues.
For more about how involved mega-star Jay-Z has been in the opening of Barclays Center and the relaunch and packaging of the Brooklyn Nets, read this NY Times article, Jay-Z Rewrites the Celebrity Investors Playbook.
4. What is That Brown Metallic Stuff Covering the Barclays Center Facade?Sad but true: the arena's facade has aptly been likened to "a giant rusted tin can."
Originally the Barclays Center was presented to the public as a project that would be designed by Frank Gehry, a leading modern architect, lending instantaneous prestige to the structure, and to Brooklyn. (See the original Gehry design.)
Due to cost considerations, the Gehry plan was scrapped.
The actual building, designed by SHop Architects and AECOM features an unusual brown metallic facade that has been the occasion for much humorous-to-caustic jibes, Brooklyn style.
According to press reports, during opening week of the Barclays Center many passers-by thought the rust-colored outer structure of the arena was yet to be covered with some decorative facade, assuming that the construction schedule was just late. On opening day of the Barclays Center, August 28, a local newspaper article, What Do You Think of the Barclays Rusty Facade? documented citizen's opinions, which ranged from "depressing" to "I thought they were going to paint over it." (And those were among the nice comments.)
The arena's "weathering steel" facade is made of 12,000 unique panels made of 600 tons of steel sheets, according to Brooklyn Nets spokespeople. And so you can see it at night, too, the whole structure is lit by 1,900 LED lights at night.
5. Barclays & Nets Owners:Bruce Ratner and ... Who's that Russian Tycoon Prokhorov?The cast of characters in the Barclays Center saga includes many. But two of the largest and most notable owners of the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets:
- Bruce Ratner, the president of Forest City Ratner, the Atlantic Yards developer, has been the driving force behind the planning and construction of the new stadium, as well as other major developments in downtown Brooklyn, including MetroTech and the Atlantic Center Mall area located directly across from the Barclays Center. Ratner bought the Brooklyn Nets in 2003 when they were the New Jersey Nets, as a way to win support for his development vision. When financing became difficult, he sold a 45 percent interest in the entire real estate project, and a controlling interest in the Nets to...
- Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian tycoon. Prokhorov reportedly spent $200 million in 2009 to win majority (80 percent) ownership of the Brooklyn Nets, and 45 percent interest in the Barclays Center arena, purchasing both from Bruce Ratner. (See Richest Russian’s Newest Toy: An N.B.A. Team). In 2011, Forbes Magazine's profile of the richest people in the world said the self-made, 6-foot 8-inch, 47-year-old batchelor Prokhorov had an estimated net worth of $18 billion, making him the 32nd richest person in the world. He unsuccessfully ran for president of Russia in 2011-12 against Vladimir Putin in what was largely a symbolic campaign.
6. How Big is Barclays Center?Size can be measured in various ways:
- Square footage: 675,000-square-foot
- Seating capacity: It seats 18,000-19,000 people, depending on the event/li>
- Event venue: It hosts about 220 or more events per week, meaning on average four per week
7. What Was the Public Controversy Over Barclays? Who's "Develop Don't Destroy?"The Barclays Center arena and related $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards housing developments, totaling over 20 acres, received immense support from pro-development NYC and NY State officials over a period of nearly a decade.
However, the Atlantic Yards concept (a huge arena and even bigger high rise housing development) created huge public controversy among local residents. Litigation, lobbying and bitter protest ensued. At issue in this David and Goliath fight were a tangled web of concerns over the community's desire to have a say in the project. Specific issues included, for instance: planning, environmental impact on surrounding neighborhoods, broken promises, financing, transparency, community participation, honest dealing or lack thereof, use of such tactics as "bait and switch," and accessing private property for corporate benefit through the government-approved exercise of eminent domain.
Many local neighborhood residents considered the tax breaks and political influence wielded by the developers to constitute a publicly-financed "land grab" by deep-pocketed and cynical corporate interests.
Controversy continues to swirl over the building of the next, and larger phase of the developers' original plan for the area: the massive Atlantic Yards complex. This high-rise housing development is envisioned as sixteen 60-story possible pre-fab buildings, dwarfing the otherwise low-rise Brooklyn sky-scape and creating what would possibly be the highest density urban complex in America.To date, neither elected officials nor the developers plans have seen fit to address quality of life issues such as traffic, the development's impact on sewage and other basic services and the environment, or impact on schools.