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July 1, 2011

The official press release on the BAM-Barclays alliance, the imaginary new "cultural district," and reflections on Bruce Ratner's gift for irony

Atlantic Yards Report

Leave it to Norman Oder to point out the greatest irony of all.

"I always like to put things that are a little bit ironic together" was the money quote from Bruce Ratner in today's New York Times exclusive on the alliance in which the Brooklyn Academy of Music will bring three or four large-scale shows to fill empty dates at the Barclays Center arena.

The first irony is that this was seen as big news rather than as a question mark over the event projections for the arena. Remember, they've booked 150 shows and aim for more than 200 events a year.

The problem with those numbers is that a Moody's analyst in 2009 said its just-above-junk rating for $511 million in Barclays Center PILOT bonds depended in part on 225 events a year, and Forest City Ratner's original projection of 225 events depended on no new arena in Newark, though one has since opened.
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There's an even greater irony. The alliance with BAM could turn the Barlcays Center into the "18,000-seat opera house" that Assemblyman Roger Green once said Atlantic Yards protestors might embrace.

From Chris Smith's August 2006 New York magazine article, Mr. Ratner's Neighborhood:

Green isn’t quite so blunt, but he sees the divide over Atlantic Yards almost as starkly. “Here’s the question: If we were building an 18,000-seat opera house, would we get as much resistance? I don’t think so,” he says. “Basketball is like a secular religion for most Brooklynites. The opposition to the arena is actually coming from people who are new to Brooklyn, who lived in Manhattan, mostly. And who have a culture of opposing projects of this nature. People who opposed the West Side Highway project; people who opposed the Jets stadium; people who opposed a host of other things. Some of those families now live in Brooklyn. That’s the reality. There’s a class of people who are going to the opera. And there’s another class of folks who will go to a basketball game and get a cup of beer.”

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Posted by eric at July 1, 2011 10:39 AM