The Brooklyn Nets – a franchise that was one of the original teams of the old American Basketball
Association. They started their existence in Teaneck, New Jersey in 1967, then moved out to Long
Island, playing in several venues on the island before returning to New Jersey as a result of the NBA-
ABA merge in 1976. As the New Jersey Nets, they played at the arena at the Meadowlands now known
as the Izod Center for most of their run out there, before moving temporarily to the Prudential Center in
Newark. In April of 2012 the Brooklyn Nets were born. Their shiny new venue, the Barclays Center, was
finally set to open after years of delay and change in vision for the massive Atlantic Yards project in
Brooklyn. On November 3, 2012, professional sports returned to Brooklyn for the first time since the
Brooklyn Dodgers departed a generation ago.
Getting to the venue
Barclays Center is located amidst the hustle and bustle of a very vibrant and gritty downtown Brooklyn,
situated at the corner of Atlantic Ave and Flatbush Ave. As such, parking is very limited and very much in
demand. Private lots ask $40 to park, and through the arena’s web site, fans can make “reservations”
for a parking space at one of a number of lots within a 5 minute walking distance, with the cost
running about $36. Street parking is allowed but obviously is very limited, and the adjoin ramp to the
arena is reserved for premium ticket holders.
The best option is pubic transportation. The Atlantic Terminal of the Long Island Rail Rod is directly
across the street and will take you to any points east on Long Island. The Atlantic Ave/Barclays Center
subway station has been newly rebuilt and expanded, and the entrance is directly outside the front
plaza of the arena. Nine different subway lines connect through this station. Eleven local bus lines
traverse the arena for fans in the local Brooklyn area. The team even encourages bike travel, offering a
large phalanx of bicycle racks directly behind the arena, and use is complimentary.
Outside the venue
Every bit of the New York vibe can be felt when looking at any given direction from the front plaza of the
Barclays Center. Being next door to the LIRR terminus, this area serves as a transportation hub. The
Atlantic Yards vision which saw a massive redevelopment of this entire area into a dense mixed use
area sporting tens of thousands of new residential units was abandoned in 2008. Nonetheless, new
construction abounds, with cranes in the air and skyscrapers going up at a rapid clip. At street level, it’s
retail shops, bodegas, chain restaurants, tightly wound residential streets, and the urban bustle that is
so part of the feel of being in New York. The massive public plaza in front of the arena is nicely
landscaped, well lit, a 360 degree tear drop shaped LED board the signature element of the entryway,
and mood lighting emanating from the pavers adding to a nice feel. A nice touch is the placement of
the actual flagpole from Ebbets Field in front of the building, with an adjoining historical marker.
The Barclays Center experience starts to go downhill once you step inside. The main entrance leads
into a pavilion style atrium lobby, and it’s dark. Granted there are futuristic LED ribbon boards but if this
is what one depends on to light the way that’s not a good thing. Straight ahead is a massive cavity
giving one’s first glimpse to the seating bowl. Good luck actually trying to get that glimpse as the first of
many ushers you will experience on your visit will shoo you away.
Then there are the concourses themselves – all done in team colors black and gray, and it makes the
corridors look dreary and depressing. The place needs splashes of color desperately. One almost
feels inclined to bring in buckets of bold pastel colored paints and just throw them at the walls to
create instant art. The upper levels, equally as dreary, are best with narrowing choke points along both
sidelines, which makes a trip to concessions stands or the washrooms a cumbersome chore. Not
Dark? Dank? Dreary? Yeah it gets worse. The two level seating bowl is so dark, that sitting upstairs
one needs a flashlight, or the glow off of one’s smartphone, to find the row number while climbing up
to your seats. No we are not kidding the place is like a dark movie theatre where the show has already
begun. The only light source is prevalent on the court and the first few rows where the glow of lights
helps things. The four sided video board and surround ribbon boards emit some light. Why they print
and pass out complimentary programs is anyone’s guess. Nobody can read them.
If there’s one thing the Barclays Center has plenty of, it’s premium clubs. There’s a restaurant called
the 40/40 Club on the suite level, with buffet offerings. A courtside club is situated right next to the Nets’
locker room entrance, where fans can watch the players go buy. Then there are additional premium
lounges on the club level at each side of the arena. Party suites and other suites of varying
configurations are available on the suite level, but the most exclusive part of the building is titled “The
Vault”, 11 suites tucked away on the event level, with a private champagne bar among its elite
amenities. Presumably these areas of the building come with adequate lighting.
This is the arena’s strongest asset – the vast array and selection of terrific food and drink items, which
all come with a strong hometown Brooklyn theme. There are over 30 local vendors who bring their
specialty items, under the concession themed stands such as “Bed Stuy Grill”, “Paisano’s Meat
Market”, “Avenue K Deli”, “Junior’s, Blue Marble and More”, “Fatty Cue Barbecue”. All these and more
offer many of the local delights, from steakhouse burgers to world famous cheesecake to ice cream
floats to kosher baked goods to pasta to pickles and much, much more. One would need about six
visits to sample all the delights offered here. Pick up a guide at any guest relations stand and choose
carefully and wisely.
The team store at street level is absolutely massive, and these are about half a dozen companion
retail outlets all facing Flatbush Avenue.
Retired numbers and banners
True story – the Nets at first hung banners and numbers all in the colors and logo and branding of their
current black and white configuration. The purists howled in protest, and the old Nets colors, many in
red/white/blue, going back to their ABA glory now hang in the rafters at the Barclays Center. Their six
numbers include #3 Drazen Petrovic, #4 Wendell ladner, #23 John Williamson, #25 Bill Melchionni,
#52 Buck Williams and the greatest Net of all, Dr. J #32 Julius Erving. Their two ABA Championships
(1974 and 1976) standout amidst numerous division crowns. Additionally, famed rapper (and part
owner Jay Z) touts his string of sold out shows in the new venue with his own commemorative banner.
Slam Dunks, Assists, Fouls…
Foul (and companion technical) to the miserable sphincter police. When you have a snarly usher
repeatedly haranguing you to produce a ticket stub (or else), shooing you away from other alcoves to
take a quick picture, chewing you out because you have the audacity to charge your smartphone at a
free outlet in the corridor, you have a customer service problem. In fairness, not everyone in the
building was rude and mean. But there is work to be done.
Slam dunk – to rapper Jay Z for putting his personal imprint and identity on the franchise. Whether you
like rap or you don’t, his fame brings the team fame, and for Brooklynites welcoming their community
back to the rank for the four sports, that is never a bad thing
Slam dunk – for the Ebbets Field market and flag pole in the plaza out front.
Assist – to our famed sports road trip partners Mike “The King Casiano” and Gary “The Prince”
Herman, who once again showed us their “New Yawk” hospitality and accompanied us on this day
long journey, assisting us with tickets and setting up a nice local dinner experience. You can’t ask for
better friends! And that leads us to…
Slam dunk – Juniors Restaurant. On Flatbush Ave two blocks from the arena. A true local institution,
and the egg creams and cheesecake are to die for.
Assist – Heaven forbid you charge your phone at a stray outlet, but yes, there is a “charging station” on
the 100 level offering plug in adapters for just about any mobile device. Scatter nine more of these
throughout the building and now you’re talkin’.
Assist - Nice doings with game day presentation. Russian night included the anthem, music, ravel
videos from Russian landmarks, and a kick ass electric guitarist from Kyiv, which is, umm, in Ukraine.
This arena is almost a cast study in multiple personalities .. there's the glitzy and opulent exterior and
architecture, the New York urban feel of the neighborhood. Contrast that with the arena that is
shrouded by darkness in most of the interior and the drab and colorless interior, and you have a mish
mosh of every thing cutting edge and yet everything that is so very wrong. Then there is the surliness of
some of the in house staff; there is absolutely no need to be checking tickets and guarding the second
most cheapest seats in the venue. There is no need to admonish and scold patrons for wanting to
take pictures. We had a horrible experience back in the day with the New Jersey Nets at Izod Center.
That was two ownership groups ago yet something in this organization's DNA suggests that there is
need for nice and gentler attitudes. The good news? All this is correctible. Start with a massive interior
light project in the seating bowl and go from there.
Concessions/Team Store 9
Fan Support 5.5
In Game Entertainment 8
Concourses/Fan Comfort 2
Bonus: Russian game night presentation 1; Ebbets Field flagpole 1; 360 LED board in plaza 1