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Bruce Ratner on Barclays Center, Islanders move, 'feud' with MSG

Bruce Ratner told the audience that there's plenty of room in New York for Barclays Center and MSG.
Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner, speaking this morning in a featured interview at the 2013 Sports Facilities and Franchises conference, said his transition from president and CEO of Forest City Ratner Cos. to executive chairman, and the installation of MaryAnne Gilmartin to his prior role, was driven by long-term company planning.

"One of the key things of being a leader is to plan for succession," Ratner said of the executive moves, announced earlier today. "But this is a great thing, a wonderful thing that has happened. MaryAnne is terrific. She's been with us for 18 years, and we're at a point now where we're finishing each other's sentences."

Ratner, not surprisingly, spoke glowingly about the debut year of Barclays Center, which has seen a successful run of events following a decade-long battle to create it that included nearly three dozen legal challenges and an entirely new design after the Great Recession forced the company to scrap a Frank Gehry design.

"The arena has been nothing short of spectacular," Ratner said.

Ratner also addressed the arrival of the New York Islanders to Barclays Center in 2015. He wouldn’t discuss industry rumors that the hockey club would be leaving the Nassau Coliseum a year earlier, but said Islanders owner Charles Wang made a "heroic decision" to move to Brooklyn as opposed to leaving the New York area altogether.

"Charles Wang did a wonderful thing keeping the Islanders in the area when he had plenty of offers to go elsewhere," Ratner said. Ratner's company is now bidding to redevelop the Nassau Coliseum property, which he said contained "great possibilities."

Since the creation of Barclays Center, the supposed competition between the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks and the new arena and Madison Square Garden has been a frequent topic of media chatter. But Ratner downplayed the existence of any feud.

"We really don't look at MSG as a competitor," he said. "The market is big enough and vibrant enough to support both of us."
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