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Barclays Center to open amid some opposition

The exterior of the new Barclays Center in

The exterior of the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. (April 26, 2012) Credit: Charles Eckert

There's a new game in town, and Brooklyn will likely never be the same.

After years of wrangling, setbacks, lawsuits and finally construction, the Barclays Center will open Friday with the first of eight concerts by Brooklyn-born rapper -- and partial Nets basketball team owner -- Jay Z.

While many Brooklynites and city leaders say the Barclays Center is going to put a bigger spotlight on and give an economic boost to the borough, New Yorkers are divided on what its long-term impact will be.

It's been welcomed by the likes of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and reviled by activists such as Daniel Goldstein, who went to court to shut down the project.

Markowitz, who cut the ribbon at Barclays on Friday, said the 18,000-seat arena is giving Kings County residents a great venue for world-class entertainment.

"I think overwhelmingly there is an excitement in the air and some anticipation that the biggest names in entertainment will finally come to Brooklyn," he said.

Markowitz said the arena will be nothing short of a landmark for Brooklyn.

"It's exciting for kids," Markowitz said. "The kids will have someone to root for and enjoy also other events."

Aside from being the home of the Brooklyn Nets, Barclays has marquee names on its concert calendar.

After Jay Z, upcoming shows include Barbra Streisand, Justin Bieber, the Who and Disney on Ice.

A 2006 economic impact study estimated that the project would produce more than 8,500 permanent jobs and create nearly 17,000 construction jobs.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the whole community was involved in successfully launching Barclays.

"Long-term planning, partnership and staying ahead of the curve continues to be our winning formula for jobs and growth . . . ," he said in his radio address Sunday.

Barclays opponents however, contend that the center's glitz and glamour may have come at a cost.

Goldstein, who co-founded the group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, said the developers have not been quick to deliver on their proposed affordable housing units.

Goldstein staged a protest during Friday's ribbon cutting. He said the first of 16 residential towers around the arena is going to break ground soon, but that only a few of the building's units will be for low- and middle-income families.

Representatives for Barclays declined to comment.

He added that many business owners were upset that they were forced to move during the recession because the city used eminent domain.

"I personally want to say that people who go to the events enjoy the events. The problem is, this is not what Brooklyn was promised," Goldstein said.

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