Brooklyn's New Arena and Basketball Team Take the Borough's Allure to the Bank
"It makes me mad / and it's such a pity / they're trying to rename Brooklyn / "Forest City," lamented roots rocker John Pinamonti in his fight song/elegy "The Burrow," performed in 2007 at Freddy's Bar & Backroom in Prospect Heights, the clubhouse of the Atlantic Yards resistance.
His target: developer Forest City Ratner. After building MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn and the Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls, Forest City had just muscled through state approval of the Atlantic Yards project, which promised a basketball arena and 16 towers over just 22 acres, including an 8.5-acre M.T.A. railyard.
Now Freddy's (since relocated) and its row-house neighbors have been obliterated for the Barclays Center, the spaceship/rusty turtle/Brooklyn monument that occupies the confluence of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, its hulking mass encroaching on residential Prospect Heights.
Meanwhile, the folks running the show are "trying to rename Brooklyn," or at least exploit its reputation as a world-class destination. Built by Forest City, the Barclays Center is named for the shady British bank, while the Brooklyn Nets are owned by a Russian oligarch with his own dubious track record. All are doing their best to wrap themselves in variable elements of Brooklyn's allure: earthy history, hardscrabble streets, and nouveau creativity.