Barclays Center Makes NBA Debut With Only A Few Snags; Game Fails To Sell Out
With last night's Wizards-Nets preseason game at Barclays Center, the NBA in Brooklyn “debuted with the combination of pomp and logistical growing pains, with a large crowd that grew louder as the game progressed, and a mad scramble from the arena staff to get Barclays Center ready for tipoff,” according to Stephan Bondy of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The night was “devoid of any major snafus.” But less than two hours before game time, while players were “shooting on the court, workers drilled and screwed in seats.” Other problems included "power failures and broken video feeds,” but there were “no disasters, just hiccups.” The game "started on time with bright lights and loud music, with the Nets being introduced to their adopted theme song, ‘Brooklyn,’ by rapper Fabolous.” The announced crowd of 14,219 "started off subdued, and there were frequent moments of silence in the first half.” But the noise “picked up as the Nets picked up the pace and their defense in the second half” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/16). In N.Y., Howard Beck notes the Nets falling short of a sellout by about 3,500 is “not unusual for a preseason game, but a mild disappointment for a team making its celebrated debut in a new city.” At least “one-third of the seats were empty at tipoff.” Still, the crowd “was engaged.” The game was, by “any measure, a huge improvement over the moribund atmosphere of the Prudential Center in Newark” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/16).
HONEYMOON PERIOD: YAHOO SPORTS’ Adrian Wojnarowski writes Brooklyn is “a basketball borough, and it'll be demanding” of Nets G Deron Williams and his team. The novelty will “wear off, and the Nets will need to beat the Knicks and be competitive in the Eastern Conference to become a credible entity here.” Nets C Brook Lopez said, "These are high basketball IQ fans here. They know the game here." Nets coach Avery Johnson “confessed to treating this far, far differently than a preseason game.” Williams "had to laugh over Johnson re-inserting him into the game late, and his eyes bugged over the score sheet that told him his coach had played Joe Johnson 38 minutes” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/16). CBSSPORTS.com’s Ken Berger wrote the Nets, for “a change, will have fannies in the seats and will generate buzz by virtue of their change of address and Williams' star power alone.” But they are in the “novelty stage of the honeymoon, and it makes you wonder what kind of story this will be when the newness wears off” (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/16). However, SportsNet N.Y.’s Peter Schrager said of fans in Brooklyn, "They’re just going to be excited to have a team. I don’t think that there’s this great expectation of an NBA championship” (“The WheelHouse,” SportsNet N.Y., 10/15).
TAKING IT ALL IN: FOXSPORTS.com’s Sam Gardner writes there were many fans “not even making an honest attempt to find their seats until the second half, if at all, because they were so preoccupied with everything else the dazzling new billion-dollar arena had to offer.” From the moment fans "emerge from the brand-new subway station exit at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the scene.” There are LED lights “galore, and as you walk through the grand entrance, which leads into a huge foyer facing the court, it almost feels like boarding a UFO.” Once inside the building, "virtually everything is monochromatic, with black the dominant hue.” The feeling inside Barclays Center is “one of excess.” The theater lighting, "was a slick touch, and the unique dark-wood herringbone court looked even better in person than it did in photos.” Gardner: “It really was magnificent” (FOXSPORTS.com, 10/16). SI.com’s Chris Mannix wrote the "most high tech stadium in sports, or so it is being billed, offers free wifi and an app for fans to order food from their seats with a three-story sized scoreboard hanging from the rafters.” But the "sponsorship of, well, everything gives the building a bit of a goofy, Roger Dorn-owns-the-Indians feel" (SI.com, 10/15).
THROWING STONES: In N.Y., James McKinley reported the Rolling Stones “ended up choosing the Prudential Center in Newark over the new Barclays Center” for the band's 50th anniversary tour. Madison Square Garden officials said that the band had “first approached” MSG, but the Manhattan arena, which has “a tight calendar, did not have two dates available in December.” Sources said that the Stones then “entered talks with Barclays.” But in the end “no agreement was reached” (NYTIMES.com, 10/15).