Officials were falling all over themselves on Friday waxing poetic on the great boom the new Barclays Center will be for Brooklynites, congratulating themselves on the Atlantic Yards mega-project whose first stage has come to fruition with the opening of the 18,000-seat arena.
Protestors were also on hand, wearing masks, saying that the project was far from beneficial to the residents of the area.
Mayor Bloomberg was there sitting on the stage with developer Bruce Ratner and Borough President Marty Markowitz.
“Brooklyn has arrived,” Bloomberg said. “It’s a great day.”
Ratner spoke to over 100 members of the media on Friday explaining how the new arena would make the lives of Brooklynites so much better, employing them by the thousands, and bringing world class sports and entertainment to their doorstep.
“It’s a defining new model for the role sports and entertainment arenas can play in communities,” Ratner said.
He then took a pair of extra-super large scissors and snipped the purple ribbon that was strewn across the front of the basketball court. Confetti burst forth as Ratner performed the ritual.
Not all Brooklynites feel as warm and fuzzy about the Atlantic-Yards project and the Barclays Center. A small number of protestors performed satiric street theater expressing their frustration and dismay at the promise of jobs developers reneged on.
“They’re ripping off Brooklyn,” said project uber-opponent Daniel Goldstein of "Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn", who accepted a $3 million payoff after the state condemned his Prospect Heights home to make room for the Atlantic Yards development.
Goldstein added that the next phase of the project, which includes residential towers, should be cancelled, and Ratner should be held to blame.
"What was promised wasn't just an arena with luxury suites," said Goldstein. "It was 2,250 units of affordable housing and 10,000 permanent jobs. We don't have a single unit of housing under construction and this arena has created 105 full-time jobs instead of 10,000."
Lawsuits over eminent domain delayed the project several times. Protestors say that private land should not have been grabbed for this project, and they intend to keep on protesting.