For Brooklyn’s New Arena, Day 1 Brings Hip-Hop Fans and Protests, NY Times, 9/29/12

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  Search All NYTimes.com   Multimedia Opening Night in BrooklynBarclays Center: An Arena WithMany Faces Related Music Review: Jay-Z Comes  For Brooklyn’s New Arena, Day 1Brings Hip-Hop Fansand Protests Michael Appleton for The New York Times A DEBUT Justine DelValle and Luis Sanchez, both Brooklynites, took their seats at the Barclays Center before Jay-Z's concert Friday.More Photos » ByN. R. KLEINFIELDPublished: September 28, 2012  After nine years as the focal point of a pitched confrontation overurbande velopment, po wer and bask etball,theBarcla y s Centerin Brooklyn began its first day of life on Frida y with the hip-hop superstar Jay-Zperforming at a sold-out concert while activists outside the arena reminded attendees of the unfulfilled promises of the center’s developer.Under weeping, sun-starved skies, thesurrounding streets were animatedfrom early morning. Curiosity-seekers without tickets staked out viewingspots in hopes of glimpsing notablesand to bear witness to a milestone.“We thought Beyoncé was going to come out the side,” saidJosie Mignone, 68, a lifelong Brooklyn resident who walkedover to the center with her husband from their nearby apartment 11 hours before the start of the concert. Aftermaking a few detours to weigh bargains at some stores,they planted themselves in the Starbucks on the arena’sground floor and had some free samples.“This is a big event for us Brooklyn people,” Ms. Mignonesaid.By early afternoon, dozens of workers were filing through a back door, many of them reporting for their first day of anew job.There had been a frenzied push to complete the arena in   White HouseMove to GiveEgypt $450Million in AidMeets ResistanceThe Psych Approach Log In With Facebook   Advertisement MOST E-MAILEDMOST VIEWED Log in to see what your friendsare sharing on nytimes.com.Privacy Policy|What’s This? What’s Popular Now Sign up for the latest in all things fashion fromacclaimedcritics and reporters of The Times delivered weekly.   The Collection E-Mail 1. DAVID BROOKS The Psych Approach2. JOE NOCERA The College Rankings Racket3. OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR  Why the Beaver Should Thank the Wolf 4. MARK BITTMAN Is Alzheimer's Type 3 Diabetes?5.The Beauty of Frugal Rome: Some of theBest Things Are Free6.36 Hours in Dubrovnik, Croatia7. TIMOTHY EGAN The Geography of Nope8. SUNDAY REVIEW | GRAY MATTER Inside the Mind of Worry  HOME PAGETOD AY'S PAPERVIDEOMOST POPULAR N.Y. / Region  WORLDU.S.N.Y. / REGIONBUSINESSTECHNOLOGYSCIENCEHEALTHSPORTSOPINIONARTSSTYLETRAVEL JOBSREAL ESTATEAUTOS FACEBOOKTWITTERGOOGLE+E-MAILSHAREPRINTREPRINTS Subscribe:Digital/Home Delivery Log In   Register Now   HelpU.S. Edition   Brooklyn(September 30, 2012)Barclays Arena Rivals theGarden’s Glow (September 28,2012)Nets Helped Clear Path forBuilder in Brooklyn(September27, 2012)City Room: The New Arena Is a Whale. Or Is It a Tire? Perhaps aTurtle?(September 27, 2012) Connect with NYTMetro Follow us onTwitterand like us onFacebook for news andconversation. Enlarge This Image Richard Perry/The New York Times Jay-Z performed at the BarclaysCenter in Brooklyn on Friday night.More Photos »Enlarge This Image Michael Appleton for The New York Times People exited the Barclays Center subway station.More Photos » me or s ng, an even ours eore e oors opene,hurried preparations were still going on. Ladders wereevident everywhere, as workers scrambled up them tofiddle with light fixtures. Other workers were carting in bigsteel racks filled with bottles of red wine and high-priced vodkas. Larry Banks, 19, from Ridgewood, Queens, arrivedto do janitorial work, probably restroom duty, still unsureof the assignment.“It’s history right here,” he said. “And I’m working, keepingit together.”Dozens of opponents staged protests throughout the day. Atdusk, thousands arrived to see the show — to hear asuperstar rapper who grew up in a Brooklyn housingproject. Many wore T-shirts and caps that suggested thenew arena’s role in invigorating pride in this borough.Then there was Daphne Carr, 34, uncomfortably straddlingtwo worlds. She slept outside the arena on Thursday nightand held a sign: “Brooklyn Sold but We Ain’t Buying.” Butunlike other protesters who have sworn never to enter theBarclays Center for an event, she acknowledged with ashrug that she was attending Jay-Z’s concert on Saturday.“It makes me complicit in a world of evil,” she said. “Iknow that.”But she said she got tickets free and was a quietconnoisseur of Jay-Z’s music.This was more than an inaugural concert. It was also ademarcation point in a searing battle that took on thecontours of a morality play.The long-delayed $1 billion arena — which as the home of the transplanted Brooklyn Nets returns a major-league sports team to Brooklyn for thefirst time in more than half a century — has become a metaphor for the trials of change inan already changing borough.More than 14,000 fans representing a broad assemblage of people funneled into thecenter. At the insistence of Jay-Z, nearly half of the tickets were priced at $29.50, plus fees, while choice seats sold on the resale market for thousands of dollars. The true upper end were the 11 superluxurious floor-level suites, known as the Vault, which lease for$550,000 a year, with a three-year minimum contract.The developer Bruce C. Ratner watched from one luxury suite, while Mikhail Prokohorov,the Russian billionaire who owns the Nets, occupied his own suite. Most of the Netsplayers attended, many of them at the invitation of Deron Williams, the star point guard, who has a luxury suite as well.The arena left little free of corporate sponsorship. There were phone-charging booths fromMetroPCS and entrances named for Geico and EmblemHealth. Women in gowns handedout $5 gift certificates to the Foxwoods casino. As the 8 p.m. concert time came, lines outside the main entrance were still hundreds deep,as entry was slowed by everyone’s passage through metal detectors. The start of theconcert was delayed while a D.J. entertained the crowd.The crowd was growing fidgety as the lights finally dimmed at almost 9:45. A slide show recounted aspects of Brooklyn’s history, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the Beastie Boys,Ebbets Field and finally the Brooklyn Nets. Jay-Z took the stage in a white Nets hat and a black Nets jersey — No. 4, with “Carter,” his actual last name, across the back. Before aprojection of city projects, he said, “Today is a celebration, a celebration of the place whereI’m from. When I say, ‘Is Brooklyn in the house,’ I want to hear everybody. Is Brooklynin the house?” The crowd roared. Go to Complete List »Show My Recommendations 9.To Fight Crime, a Poor City Will Trade InIts Police10.Revelations in High-End Rome Hoping for Emmy (or a breeze)  ALSO IN STYLE» Into the woods with BalenciagaGeneration genius!  ADVERTISEMENTS  Ads by Googlewhat's this? The Wall Street Journal Official Site. Subscribe Today for Home Delivery & Get 4 Weeks Free! www.WallStreetJournal.com  Meanwhile, many residents of the surrounding neighborhoods of Park Slope, ProspectHeights, Fort Greene and Boerum Hill remained apprehensive about the arena’s opening.The swooping glass-and-rusted-steel structure, at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in the heart of New York’s most populous borough, is the first element of aproposed $4.9 billion, heavily taxpayer-subsidized Atlantic Yardsdevelopment, the biggestever tried in Brooklyn. The project is designed to squeeze 15 housing towers and a possiblehotel or commercial building onto a 22-acre plot, adding thousands of permanent jobs andaffordable housing units. Yet none of the other buildings have risen, and many concerns persist about them and thelevers used along the way by Mr. Ratner and his Forest City Ratner Companies.Forest City Ratner, which also built the headquarters of The New York Times in Midtown,imagines completion of the project may span 25 years, far more than its srcinal 10-yearestimate. Groundbreaking on the first residential tower is scheduled for December. After so much queasiness and competing prophecies of just what it will mean to put a bigarena on this Brooklyn plot, the concert was the first chance to see how it works. Wouldthe traffic be impossible? Would the food satisfy the borough’s increasingly exactingstandards? Would drunken fans wake up sleeping families and their dogs? Would enoughpeople come?But before any of those questions could be answered, the protests — a staple of theconstruction zone for years — went on.The protests outside the center throughout Friday were, for the most part, modest in sizeand often included farce as a means of expression. They involved a news conference beneath the entrance canopy, sermons, bits of street theater and coordinated Twitter posts.The demonstrators, some of whom slept on the street the night before, rarely numberedmore than 50.Several women, done up in outlandish wigs, rhinestone jewelry and garish sunglasses, wore sandwich boards that said: “Billionaires for Barclays. Who’s in Your Pocket?”The activist performer Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping appeared in a whitesuit, white boots and clerical collar and lamented that “Bruce Ratnerfigures” aredestroying neighborhoods around the world. About 6:30, a small group of protesters spied Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn boroughpresident, heading toward a side entrance. They chased him down the block shouting,“You can’t negotiate with a monopolist!”In reaction to the protesters, Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Mr. Ratner, said, “We are 100percent committed to the affordable housing, jobs and other benefits of Atlantic Yards and welcome those who were against them at the start to work with us to achieve them goingforward.”Jay-Z, who will perform eight concerts to open the Barclays Center, has left his imprintthroughout the project. He has leveraged his tiny stake in the Brooklyn Nets and the arenainto an outsize presence as one of the public faces of the project, including helping designthe team’s insignia and uniforms. He also owns an upscale club called 40/40 inside thecenter.The Nets are the center’s principal tenant, the first major sports team in Brooklyn since theDodgers broke the borough’s heart by leaving for the West Coast in 1957. On Oct. 15, theNets will play their initial preseason game at the 18,200-seat arena, and on Nov. 1, they  will take to the court to start the basketball season against the Knicks, from the boroughnext door.Some of those who came by for a look on Friday were already revisiting their teamallegiances. Niema Saunders, who lives 10 minutes away, pushed her daughter, Sierra,past the building in a stroller. A Knicks fan, she said proximity had forced a re-evaluation.“It’s finally finished,” she said in explaining her intention to root for the Nets. “And it’s   A version of this article appeared in print on September 29, 2012, on page A18 of the New York edition with the headline:For Brooklyn’s New Arena, Day 1 Brings Hip-Hop Fans and Protests. FACEBOOKTWITTERGOOGLE+E-MAILSHARE Barclays Center (NYC)Demonstrations, Protests, and Riots Get Free E-mail Alerts on These Topics  Area Planning and RenewalRatner, Bruce closer.”Marcus Bruny, 24, a security guard from Canarsie, was unconflicted. He arrived for theconcert wearing a Nets jersey, Nets jacket and Nets hat. “It’s only right,” he said. “I’mgoing hard for Brooklyn, that’s where I’m from.”To get a sense of the center’s impact, Stephen Levin, a city councilman, patrolled the blocks around the arena with constituents as concertgoers arrived. In the hours before thedoors opened, though, traffic on the main avenues did not seem unusually heavy. One fan who drove to the arena said he had no trouble parking four blocks away. At one point, a Columbia University class on urban design collected outside the frontentrance to contemplate the stew of issues the new building raised.Local businesses near the center, any number of which have gravitated to the arearecently, were keen on attracting the extra passers-by for themselves. At the Italian restaurant Va Beh’, an extra worker had been recruited for the evening toprepare pasta. The place expected to remain open as late as 1 a.m., two hours later thancustomary. A neighbor, Yayo’s Latin Cuisine, planned on an even longer night, because of a differentconcern. It operates a small parking lot across the street for its customers.“Even friends are going to come here and say, ‘I’ll have dinner, leave my car there, go tothe Barclays Center,’ “ said Robert Garcia, the manager. “That’s not going to happen.”Mr. Garcia said the restaurant had assigned two bouncers to guard the lot.  Reporting was contributed by Howard Beck, Joseph Berger, Sam Dolnick, Matt  Flegenheimer and Michael M. Grynbaum. Get 50% Off The New York Times & Free All Digital Access.  Ads by Googlewhat's this? One Brooklyn Bridge Park Waterfront Condos for SaleReduced Prices - Move In Ready! www.OneBrooklyn.com Home   World U.S. N.Y. / Region Business Technology Science Health Sports Opinion  Arts Style Travel Jobs Real Estate  Autos Site Map INSIDE NYTIMES.COM MAGAZINE »  Alicia Keys Goes FromSpark to Fire REAL ESTATE » Gas Drilling JittersUnsettle Catskills Sales OPINION » Editorial: AnUnfinishedCampaign Against Polio Eradicating the world of the virus should be atop priority of theUnited Nations. N.Y. / REGION »  A Bowling Hustler With aBig Left Hook  SUNDAY REVIEW » Gray Matter: Inside theMind of Worry   ARTS » Can Art Still Shock?
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