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April 9, 2012
Arena Foes Will Fight Barclays Center Booze Permit
The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Gersh Kuntzman
Thousands of boozed-up sports fans will pour out of the Barclays Center onto local streets after games, ruining the quality of life for residents of the low-rise neighborhoods nearby — so the state should hold off on giving the arena a liquor license until some mitigation plan is in place, say opponents, who will converge on a public hearing tomorrow night over the booze permit.
It is virtually impossible to conceive of a sports venue not serving beer, wine or liquor — indeed, even the home of the Utah Jazz in famously dry Salt Lake City sells alcohol. But the joint Community Board 2 and 6 hearing tomorrow has Barclays Center foes sounding a bit like Carrie Nation.
“The arena is a monstrocity to begin with, but with a liquor license, there will be drunk guys vomiting and peeing in the street,” said Wanda Fleck, a resident of nearby Boerum Hill who opposes the license, though it is not likely that the State Liquor Authority will deny the permit.
Opponents say they understand that reality, but object to the permit on the grounds that neither arena operators nor their food service providers, Levy Restaurants, have presented any evidence that they will be able to handle the sheer quantity of drunk customers as they leave events at the 18,000-seat arena.
“It’s premature for them to get community board support for a liquor license when they haven’t even made public any plans for security or crowd control of 18,000 people,” said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and a Prospect Heights resident. “They haven’t shown how they can protect quality of life for the neighbors.”
Barclays Center officials did not return repeated requests for comment for this story, saying that the company will answer questions on Tuesday night.
The silence from Barclays officials serves only to magnify opponents’ main concern that arena operators have not provided any evidence that they can and will control crowds after events. As such, booze sales should be curtailed earlier than the start of the fourth quarter — currently, the NBA standard — some foes say.
“A strong argument should be made that Brooklyn’s arena respect its unique situation and [have] a half-time cut-off,” said area resident Jon Crow.
The arena encroaches on a residential neighborhood, as the state overrode zoning that requires a 200-foot cordon around a sports facility. Those returning to the interim surface parking lot would walk on sidewalks as narrow as six feet wide.
And the arena code of conduct, promised for this spring, is not yet available. Forest City Ratner officials told The Local they wouldn't comment on the liquor license application until tomorrow night's meeting, at 6:30 pm at the 78th Police Precinct, 65 6th Avenue, just a block from the arena.
One issue: would beer sales be cut off earlier than the start of the fourth quarter, which is the NBA rule, set in 2005, in response to a brawl between players and fans in Detroit.
As I wrote in January, no NBA arena will be abutting a residential neighborhood as closely as the Barclays Center, scheduled to open for basketball in October, and neighbors are concerned about noise, sanitation, driving--and inebriated fans leaving the arena.
At the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting January 26, Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall said that a code of conduct is being developed for the arena, and will be shared with the public, but not until the end of the spring.
Is there any possibility that the beer cutoff could be earlier than the end of the third quarter?
"I'm saying that I think it's impossible," responded Marshall.
Posted by eric at April 9, 2012 11:37 AM