Today (September 21), after much anticipation, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to serve as its official unveiling. Bruce Ratner (Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO), New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and plenty of civic officials including Mayor Michael Bloomberg were on hand to gush about what the new stadium will mean for NYC.
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"This is going to send a loud and clear message that Brooklyn has arrived as a center of exciting entertainment, thrilling big-time sports, and thriving commerce," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "This really is a great day for Brooklyn and a great day for New York City."
A jubilant Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz praised developer Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner Companies for seeing the decade-long project through multiple legal challenges and a tanking economy. He noted that the arena will provide nearly 2,000 jobs for local residents, many of whom were recruited from public housing developments.
"These are exactly the kind of jobs we need to help break the cycle of poverty and give these folks the chance to reach the zenith of their God-given potential," Markowitz said.
Markowitz also praised the affordable housing that's slated to be built at the $5 billion Atlantic Yards development surrounding the Barclays Center. Ratner said a groundbreaking ceremony will be held Dec. 18 for the first of the residential buildings at Atlantic Yards, a 350-unit tower where half the apartments will be "middle income" and "affordable," Ratner said.
There were protesters on hand, rocking large glossy masks, in a mock ribbon cutting ceremony of their own. The activists have had a longstanding beef with the new stadium's creation, citing ill socio-political effects the Atlantic Yards Development project would and allegedly has had on residents of the neighborhood (i.e. not creating as many jobs as promised).
New Jersey Nets minority owner Jay-Z officially opens the Barclays Center to the public with the first of eight headlining concerts on Friday, September 28th. Check out photos of the brand spanking new Barclays Center in the gallery.
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Photos: DNA Info, NY Times