Friday, November 04, 2005

Memo to the Borough of Brooklyn: Do not build the Nets Arena

Folks I have a confession to make here: I am an ex-Brooklynite. Yes I was born in the land of the Dodgers and Ebbetts Field, Coney Island and Nathans, Ralph Kramden to name a few [as well as Chris Rock, Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman-R, Al Davis-owner of the Raiders and others] and as such I have a fondness for the place. When I last lived there close to 20 years ago, it was still a place where neighborhoods had characters all their own, with a diversity that was not forced but happened naturally. Heck even the cats and dogs got along there.

The reason why I mention all of this is that there is now a plan afoot to build an arena for the New Jersey [if they move there it will be Brooklyn] Nets in the middle of the borough right on top of what is now a slightly abandoned rail yard owned by the Long Island Railroad/MTA [the Atlantic Yards]. While this will bring jobs to the area-and they are needed; it is just that this is not going to be the savior that it is being touted as. Granted the housing that is part of this is needed [if the promise of mixed use housing is lived up to] but not with the arena as the carrot on the stick.

Also the list of places where economic development being spurred on by such structures is a short one: Camden Yards-Baltimore, Jacobs Field-Cleveland, SBC Park-San Francisco, Harry S. Truman Sports Complex: Kauffman Stadium/Arrowhead Stadium-Independence, Missouri, Coors Field-Denver. However in other cities, this image of the growth and boom towns around the ballparks have yet to be fullfilled [Miller Park-Milwaukee] or even worse, fans have stayed away because the team playing there has found ways to remain lousy even with the new revenue streams [Comerica Park-Detroit anyone?].

Brooklyn can and has survived rather well without an arena to place it on the map. And for the Nets, they can ahare the same arena with New Jersey Devils in beautiful downtown Newark. This is of course if they do not fight over revenue. Or to put this another way, Henry Hill that great Brooklyn Wiseguy would have said 'A ballpark would not be needed to make Brooklyn a somebody in a world filled with nobodies'.

[If you want to check the real stats on this issue, check out a book called: 'Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit' (2nd Edition) by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause]

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