Brooklyn is back! Barclays Center made its debut last weekend with three Jay-Z sellout crowds in the 18,000-seat arena at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, just across from the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal. Spotlights searched the heavens. Crowds surged in on mass transit, and traffic didn’t snarl. The NBA's Brooklyn Nets are now waiting in the wings, and to hear some Brooklynites tell it, the world has been made right again.
“It corrects the great mistake of 1957, when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to La-La Land,” Borough President Marty Markowitz proclaimed when the Nets deal was announced. “This is redemption. This is Brooklyn getting its respect back.”
It’s about time. When I moved to the borough in 1989 from a Sunbelt city that seemed forever stuck in boom mode, gloom clung to Brooklyn like sackcloth. Factories and breweries were shuttered. The Navy Yard was closed. The port was getting quieter every day. And Walter O’Malley had long since split for Los Angeles with his Brooklyn Dodgers in tow -- leaving the place with some terrible scars.
Credit developer Bruce Ratner and Russian investor Mikhail Dmitrievitch Prokhorov, owner of the Nets, with the vision to see this project through -- despite a recession, a lawsuit marathon, NIMBY protests and public acrimony. They’ve given Brooklyn a sparkling new image that looks to the future instead of the past. Thanks, guys, and now just one little reminder -- we await the 2,250 units of affordable housing you’ve promised as part of the package.