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Developers and city officials marked the opening of the Barclays Center arena with a symbolic ribbon cutting on Friday, touting it as a “big win” for Brooklyn — but mask-clad protesters slammed those same big wigs for failing to provide enough jobs to residents in the borough.
Mayor Bloomberg — who shared a court-side stage with developer Bruce Ratner and Borough President Markowitz — cheered the 18,000-seat basketball arena as an economy-stimulating, culture-boosting venue that puts the Brooklyn on the map.
“Brooklyn has arrived,” Bloomberg said. “It’s a great day.”
The towering, rust-colored stadium — which will soon host Nets games at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues — is the centerpiece of Ratner’s controversial and long-in-the-works Atlantic Yards mega-project, which has been the subject of lawsuits, protests, and even documentary films.
On Friday, Ratner told more than 100 members of the media the arena would enrich the lives of Brooklynites and employ thousands of people.
“It’s a defining new model for the role sports and entertainment arenas can play in communities,” he said.
He then used a three-foot long pair of scissors to snip a purple ribbon in front of the basketball court as confetti shot into the air.
Other speeches included plenty of hoops terminology — think “slam dunk,” “victory,” and “cheerleader” — as TV news reporters perused tables of miniature croissants and muffins.
But outside the media gathering, some Brooklynites weren’t cheering.
A handful of protestors — clad in bobblehead-style masks of the developer and project-supporting politicians — staged a satirical performance, claiming project honchos backed out of promises to provide enough jobs.
“They’re ripping off Brooklyn,” said project mega-opponent Daniel Goldstein, who accepted a $3 million buyout after the state condemned his Prospect Heights home to make room for the Atlantic Yards development.
He said the second phase of the project, which includes building residential towers, should be cancelled and Ratner should be held accountable.
Ratner’s $5-billion project includes a high-end sports club, luxury suites and a parking lot — and will feature concerts from performers such as teen dream Justin Bieber, superstar Barbra Streisand, and rap mogul Jay-Z beginning on Sept. 28
Markowitz noted those big-name artist and exciting shows will help brighten the future of the borough.
“For every entertainer who comes, it will be a crowning achievement — because they get to say they made it to Brooklyn, USA,” he said.
Behind him, a screen above the court flashed the words: “September is just the beginning.”
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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