After years of controversy and construction, Barclays Center in Brooklyn officially opened Friday with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and will welcome the public on September 28 when Brooklyn-born rapper and Nets part-owner Jay-Z takes the stage for a sold-out concert. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
A cut of the ribbon made it official: Brooklyn has a new arena.
"I'm back to help mark the completion of one of the biggest construction projects that New York has seen in recent memory," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at Barclays Center Friday. "And I'm also here to celebrate with all of you everything that this proud day means for Brooklyn and New York."
Barclays Center will be home to the Nets, Brooklyn's first professional sports team in 55 years. It seats 18,000 for basketball games and about 19,000 for concerts and other events.
"In the past, Brooklynites had to leave our borough for world-class entertainment and sports and head over to Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Nassau County, Newark or East Rutherford," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. "Not anymore."
It took nine years to get the venue built. There were legal battles, deals brokered, land seized, major design changes and the recession.
"We needed to build for Brooklyn the most architecturally beautiful arena in this country and we did it," said developer Bruce Ratner, the chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies.
It's being touted as the first billion-dollar arena. The media got a tour Friday. Inside, there are Brooklyn eateries, free Wi-Fi and high-definition screens.
"People are used to at home seeing HD," said Charles Foley of Forest City Ratner Companies. "We want them to come to Barclays Center and see an HD screen. So that's a big thing to be competitive with other venues."
Barclays Center is so high-tech that there's no more waiting in line for food. You can order right from your seat using your phone and you pick it up on an express food line. It will be part of a Barclays Center app about to be launched in the coming weeks. The app also allows you to watch game replays.
"I assure you, we're bringing a team worthy of this great arena and this great borough," said Mikhail Prokhorov, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets.
The first basketball game is in November. But the arena opens next week with a concert by Brooklynite and part-owner Jay-Z.
While the arena is the centerpiece, developers announced work will start Dec. 18 on the the first housing complex at the site.