By many accounts, the Barclays Center is an out of scale, out of character, and unwelcome intruder that has landed in the middle of brownstone Brooklyn. And after nine years of "operatic disputation and delays" the opening of the weathered-steel covered arena is set to transform the surrounding neighborhood. Liz Robbins takes the pulse of a community on edge.
"In the days before the hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, a part owner of the Nets, inaugurates the arena with a series of concerts, the air tingles with the dust of last-second construction and mixed emotions: excitement and wariness, anger and resignation."
"Surrounding residents fear that unruly basketball fans will stagger drunkenly onto their sidewalks, that Armageddon-like traffic will blockade their streets, that already-squeezed parking spaces will be swallowed, that crime and rodents will run rampant and that housing and jobs will never come about."
"Others, notes Robbins, "hope that the 1,900 part-time jobs offered at the arena will help lift a severely underemployed borough, that retail chains opening along Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues will spur small businesses and that property values will soar."
"It's the end of the community as we know it," said Michelle de la Uz, the director of a nonprofit housing organization in Brooklyn, "and the beginning of something new. What that ‘new' is, we don't yet understand."