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As the Nets prepare to play their first regular-season home game at Barclays Center on Thursday against the Knicks, many publications are looking at the opening of the building and its impact on Brooklyn. The N.Y. DAILY NEWS produced an extensive special section yesterday and Jason Sheftell called the arena “as smooth an addition to a cityscape as they come.” The arena is “filled with private lounges, wide public concourses, seven retail spaces, and a weathered steel façade that intrigues passers-by enough to come up and touch it.” The inside is "as intriguing as outside.” The public concourse is “one area where Barclays outshines all others.” The space is “wide open.” The terrazzo marble floors “feel like being in an upscale condominium,” and the entire hallway “curves as you walk by local Brooklyn food vendors.” Developer Forest City Ratner Exec VP MaryAnne Gilmartin said that "black was the seat color from the get-go.” Gilmartin: "We wanted to make an impression -- a strong impression. You look at other arenas and they have multiple color schemes based on seat levels and it looks all wrong and unattractive. Also, I'm not going to lie, you can tell when an arena is empty. No one knows how good the team is going to be and we don't want the space to ever look empty. We even thought about designing seats that look like they have people in them." Sheftell noted angled down from the top of the arena, the seats look “right out of a scene from ‘The Matrix.’” But the lighting “gives the Barclays Center a spiritual feel" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/28). This week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL reviews the building and sits in on a staff briefing after one of the building's early preseason games (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/28 issue).
MINORITY REPORT: In N.Y., Denis Hamill wrote under the header, “Barclays Center: The House That Bruce Ratner Built” and followed Ratner around during the Barbra Streisand concert earlier this month. Ratner: "I can't allow another screw up like what happened with the Globetrotters. … We do research and the Globetrotters never sell more than 6,000 seats to a show. So we staffed the arena for that kind of crowd at the box office, at the concessions, inside the arena." But when the Globetrotters “dribbled into Barclays 10,000 fans put a full-court press at the front gates.” Ratner: "We were just caught off guard. We didn't have the staff to print tickets fast enough, usher people to seats, and sell food and beverages. We didn't have enough magnetometers. I went crazy.” The show “went off two hours late but the people waited and Ratner promised himself that it would never happen again.” Ratner added, "I am mortified the way people had to wait. But you live and learn. This is Brooklyn. Expect the unexpected.” Arena officials "expected the biggest crowd yet for Streisand” with her Oct. 13 concert. Ratner: “I think this place is going to be a good fit for Brooklyn. It will not change Brooklyn. Only people can do that. But it will become part of its fabric” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/28). Also in the section, Patty Lee looked at the food options under the subhead, “From Cobble Hill To Sunset Park, The Barclays Center Offers Food From Original Brooklyn Neighborhood Restaurants” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/28).
HOTTER TICKETS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Stu Woo cited data from search engine SeatGeek.com that shows the Nets at the Prudential Center last season were “so unpopular that tickets to 20 of their 33 games cost just $1.” The cheapest ticket available as of last Friday for the Knicks-Nets game on Thursday “was $220,” while the “average price was around $423.” For that amount, a Nets fan “could have gone to every home game last year -- and brought a few friends along” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/27).
SWITCHING FOCUS: The AP’s Nataliya Vasilyeva reported Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov “announced that he's leaving business to focus full-time on politics, returning to the political arena after remaining silent through a five-month Kremlin crackdown on the opposition.” Prokhorov said that he “wants to lead ‘a third power’" in Russia (AP, 10/28).
The Knicks “finally stepped on the Madison Square Garden court Sunday for a light walk-through, becoming the last NBA team to practice at its own arena this preseason,” according to Nate Taylor of the N.Y. TIMES. All six of the Knicks’ exhibition games were on the road "because of the second phase of extensive renovations to the Garden.” MSG will reopen to the public on Friday for the Knicks’ home opener against the Heat. The fans in the upper bowl "will be 10 feet closer to the court because of the renovations.” MSG also will "have 58 more suites, a larger concourse on the eighth floor and additional concession stands and bathrooms.” Knicks C Tyson Chandler said, “It looks great. A lot has changed since we last were here. Just walking and stepping in the Garden reminds you of who you play for and the pride and tradition of the Knicks” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/29).
The rift over a new ballpark for the Rays “deepened Friday when [St. Petersburg] Mayor Bill Foster rejected the team's request to explore stadium sites in Hillsborough County,” according to Mark Puente of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Foster, in a letter to Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg, wrote that the “only way to preserve the city's interests is not to let the team look for stadiums outside St. Petersburg or the Pinellas Gateway area.” The Rays have “a written agreement to play 1,215 more regular season games at Tropicana Field.” Foster added that besides offering the “excitement of baseball, the team is an employer, economic driver and a tourist draw for the city.” Foster's letter is a “response to Sternberg seeking permission to explore stadium sites in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.” Sternberg said that he would consider a plan for a proposed stadium in the Carillon Business Park in St. Petersburg "only if the team could also look outside the city.” He also “offered to give the city veto power on any location.” Sternberg said he was "surprised and disappointed" by Foster's letter. Puente noted the “stalemate between the city and team has grown ever since the Rays' waterfront stadium proposal fizzled in 2008” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/27). In Tampa, Marc Topkin wrote MLB Commissioner Bud Selig “hadn't spoken with” Sternberg, but “his frustration with Foster's decision seemed obvious.” Selig said, "There's work to be done there, and he ought to try to be helpful and constructive in that process. That's all I'll say” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/28). MLB.com’s Steven Miller noted the Rays “continue to struggle to draw fans” and Selig “seemed disappointed by the trend.” Selig: "I'll let you draw your own conclusion. I think it's a conclusion that's pretty obvious” (MLB.com, 10/26).
Augusta National Golf Club is “planning a major renovation and addition to its historic clubhouse,” according to Steve Crawford of the AUGUSTA CHRONICLE. A site plan filed to the city by Cranston Engineering Group shows that the club “intends to demolish a portion of the existing building, including the kitchen area, and an adjacent building on the northeast side of the clubhouse to make way for the new structure.” Augusta Planning & Development Zoning Administrator Bob Austin said that the plan "shows a large, two-level structure will be built, with the lower level sitting below grade." He added that the plans "did not indicate the square footage of the proposed structure but that it appeared to be substantial." Augusta Licensing & Inspection Construction Manager Marshall Masters said that there have been "discussions with club representatives about the project but no building plans had been filed, nor had any permits been requested.” Crawford noted the building "that became the clubhouse was constructed in 1854" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 10/28). GOLF WORLD MONDAY's E. Michael Johnson notes the Augusta National clubhouse has "undergone numerous changes over the years." The last "substantial work done was the remodeling of the locker room and grill room" in '03. Augusta National now "appears poised to present a new look to members and Masters patrons" (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 10/29 issue).