Will somebody please get their story straight? It seems like every day I pick up the paper there is a story about the NJ Nets moving or not moving to Brooklyn. One day the story is saying that the arena will never be built and another day I read that the Barclays Center as it will be called will be open for the 2010 season.
The latest stories appeared last weekend. The New York Daily news reported that the NJ Devils were interested in buying the team and moving them to Newark only to have Bruce Ratner in a guest opinion piece on Sunday deny the story and reassert that the arena would open as planned. On Monday, another article claimed that Brooklyn would never happen.
I would love t see the Nets in a new arena in Brooklyn New York, but I don’t think it will ever be built. I think back to Westway, a highway project that the city wanted to build in the 1970’s. Has anyone been on it lately? I think not, it never got built. It was litigated to death. Every time one case got resolved, it seemed that there was another right around the corner. It seems like the same thing is happening to the Brooklyn arena. And each delay translates into millions of lost dollars for Ratner. Nobody’s pockets are that deep. Eventually, I believe he will throw in the towel.
I think an arena in downtown Brooklyn (which is across the river from Wall St. area) would be great for the area. Economically it would be a real plus for brooklyn but it would also give New Yorkers an alternative to the Jim Dolan owned New York Knicks. And for the first time since the Dodgers abandoned New York, it would give Brooklyn a major league team. Also, there is plenty of mass transit to the area along with easy access to highways and bridges.
But, if the deal falls through, there are much better ideas than going to Newark. The Prudential Center (the Rock as it’s called) is a hard place to get to, the surrounding area is not very nice and the arena is a real piece of garbage. There are three ways to get there, drive and sit though horrendous traffic jams and then pay $30 or more for parking, or take the train which on weekends or late at night run very infrequently. Or, if you are going to New York City, you can take the Path train, which is a slow, cold, old dilapidated interstate subway system that goes either directly to the old World Trade Center site or if you feel like waiting for another train (and detouring to Hoboken, NJ on weekends), you can take a 45 minute or more ride to midtown Manhattan.
As an alternative one place that a new arena could be built is the area near Shea stadium where a proposed Jets football stadium never got built. There are adequate highways there, a subway station, a commuter railroad line to the eastern suburbs and plenty of parking. It is easily accessible from Manhattan, Long Island, the Bronx and the northern suburbs such as Westchester and Connecticut. To save costs, the Islanders who presently occupy the worst arena in hockey (well, maybe second worst after Pittsburgh) could easily move about 15 miles west and share the arena.
What ever happens, I hope it happens soon. I think the team, the fans and the city are all better served if an idea is approved and then acted on quickly. The focus should be on building a basketball team in the new post Jason Kidd era. Too much energy and money is being spent on this Brooklyn arena fight.