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January 13, 2012

Nets top off – quietly

NorthJersey.com
by John Brennan

One of the staples of major sports venue construction is the “topping off” ceremony – almost as much so as the “shovels-and-hard-hats” groundbreaking event that formally kicks off construction. I’ve been to plenty of these in the last decade in this metropolitan area – heck, even dormant Meadowlands Xanadu had a topping off ceremony for its parking garage (back in 2005, when that entertainment and retail project was supposed to open a mere two years later).

But for whatever reason, Forest City Ratner celebrated the Barclays Center’s topping off on Thursday with a mere press release.

The developers of the Nets’ new home – scheduled to open in September – invited 500+ workers instead of the media (usually it’s both) to hear CEO Bruce Ratner tout the progress on an arena that was first pitched by Ratner as a concept in 2003.

While the steel frame of the arena is now topped out, the developers still have lots of work to do (keep in mind that the worst-case scenario is a third year at Newark’s Prudential Center in 2012-13).

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Why no press conference for the topping-out ceremony? Maybe to avoid questions about the schedule

Whatever reason, I suspect, is that they didn't want to answer questions about how the schedule has slipped, with a very tight deadline to finish site work before the first Jay-Z concert in September, and what the plan is to ensure that the exterior cladding, produced by closed-and-reopened ASI Limited, would get done.

Brennan points to a cautionary tale across the river:

The Nets will just have to hope that they don’t run into similar deadline challenges to the Devils when they opened the Prudential Center in 2007. The team had to play its first nine games of the 2007-08 season on the road, and when it did open, many of the upper-level seats were suitable only for the sub-200 pound crowd – a dwindling demographic in the U.S. in recent years. The Devils eventually settled a lawsuit with the seating company for undisclosed terms.

NoLandGrab: Meanwhile, the Nets may have held their own "topping off" ceremony on January 6th, when they beat the Toronto Raptors, 97-85, possibly capping their season win total at two.

Posted by eric at January 13, 2012 11:53 AM