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June 27, 2011

Dave Zirin in Slam: "residents see [Atlantic Yards] more like an exercise in ethnic cleansing" (um, that's a bit broad-brush)

Atlantic Yards Report

In Sleep Till Brooklyn: Putting an NBA team in BK may not be a no-brainer business move, Edge of Sports columnist Dave Zirin (a DDDB advisory board member) writes:

My father was born and raised in Brooklyn. I grew up just across the bridge in Manhattan, but spent more time in Brooklyn than an agoraphobic hipster. I know Brooklyn and I know its wary relationship with the world of sports. This is a place that’s never quite gotten over Walter O’Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, abandoning Ebbets Field and Flatbush Avenue for Chavez Ravine and the movie stars of Los Angeles. Yet in the decades after the Dodgers betrayal, the area built its own sense of identity.

...The borough has become the new Manhattan: the place you can’t afford to live. It’s become a magnet for chain stores and fancy restaurants. Unlike Travolta’s Tony Manero, Brooklyn isn’t the place ambitious kids dream of leaving anymore. It’s where entitled college grads dream of moving to.

If you don’t understand this dynamic, then you can’t understand the dread felt by every last Brooklynite with whom I’ve spoken about the Nets’ impending move.... Despite promises by Ratner and his flacks that the project will create “an urban oasis” in the heart of Brooklyn, residents see it more like an exercise in ethnic cleansing—the ethnicity in question being people who are actually from Brooklyn. They see rising rents, shuttered local businesses, torn down homes, and a string of the chain restaurants that seem to circle all NBA arenas. They see it making continued residency impossible.

My comment:

Dave, Please don’t fall for the cliche that Brooklyn has not gotten over the loss of the Dodgers. As Michael D’Antonio points out in his book on O’Malley, in the 1960s, the NY Times editorialized that the wounds had healed, and Brooklyn even held a rally for the ’69 Mets. D’Antonio blames Roger Kahn’s “The Boys of Summer” for the wave of nostalgia. More here.

I think the reception will be mixed–there are certainly enough sports fans in Brooklyn and environs, and high-rollers buying luxury suites, to create a fan base.


Related content...

Slam Online, Sleep Till Brooklyn

Rare is the time I would ever pity a man worth $14 billion. But Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian Master of the Universe who owns the New Jersey Nets, still thinks he bought a team destined for greatness in Brooklyn. He still thinks that Newark, empty seats, and his current dispirited losing team, is just a holding pattern until the New Jersey Nets become the Brooklyn Nyets and start winning championships. He thinks that in these tight economic times, $14 billion will open every door. He’s in for a rude awakening.

I can argue with certainty: It is a dream, disconnected from reality, to think that the people of Brooklyn will come out in force to support this franchise. It is a dream to think that this “project” will run roughshod through the borough without more resistance to come. I’m sorry none of his well-paid advisors told Prokhorov the news, but Brooklyn will never go gently into that good night.

Posted by eric at June 27, 2011 11:00 PM