BROOKLYN – It’s been nine long years since Bruce Ratner presented his idea for an arena in Brooklyn to New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. So you’ll excuse Ratner if he was so excited that he repeated his opening line at Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony to express how important this was for him.
“We are finally here to celebrate the grand opening of the Barclays Center arena,” Ratner said, and then said again. Then the lights came on and the long-awaited Barclays Center was there.
There’s no doubt that this was Ratner’s day, but the star of the show was the Brooklyn Nets’ new home. It’s much better located than the old Izod Center in East Rutherford, with 11 subway lines and the Long Island railroad stopping right outside. It’s much more permanent than their stopover in Newark. And it may be the best building in the NBA.
There are some that will certainly have issues with the rusted exterior. But because the floor is below street level, the building doesn’t dominate the neighborhood vertically. And once fans are inside, they can’t help but to be impressed.
The open concourse and luxury suites are pretty standard for modern arenas. The real signature of this building will be the large atrium at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush, which takes fans right up to the arena bowl at the top of the lower level. From there, you can check on the game before you make your way to your seat.
The bowl itself is vertical, giving the arena an intimate feel. It’s a far cry from the cavernous Meadowlands that the Nets used to call home. And if crowds can help a home team win basketball games, this one certainly will.
The Nets needed a good team to bring to their new arena. And clearly, their new arena played a part in bringing the players — starting with Deron Williams – that will make up a pretty good team. Now, they’re less than six weeks away from opening night against the Knicks.
The doors are open. Brooklyn has its team. And the Nets have a place they can be proud to call home.