Barclays Center and its economic impact on Brooklyn

Local residents and business managers talk about how Barclays Center has changed the neighborhood. Video by Nathan Weiser.

The Barclays Center, which is at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, has had an overwhelming impact on Brooklyn. It opened on September 21, 2012, with eight consecutive sold out concerts by Jay-Z. The billon dollar state-of-the-art arena has improved business for area restaurants/bars, led to newer establishments that have changed the vibe, made the surrounding area safer and is a new entertainment venue in the heart of Brooklyn.

Andrew Steininger, who is the Senior Vice President & Chief of Staff of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, lived two blocks away from what is now Barclays when the idea for Atlantic Yards was conceptualized in 2003. He didn’t move away until June of 2015. He’s seen a vast change in business development.

 

 

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Percentage increase at businesses before/after events estimated by managers/employees. (Statistics compiled by Nathan Weiser.)

“If you use Vanderbilt Avenue as a good example, which is about 2.5 blocks away from Barclays, Vanderbilt had maybe one or two restaurants,” Steininger said. “The day I moved in there was a murder on the corner at a nightclub that was shutdown. Now, there are restaurants, there are clothing stores & independent book stores. It has gone from being a desolate, undeveloped area, to having an almost utopian retail presence.”

The new slogan at the main entrance to Barclays Center. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

The new slogan at the main entrance to Barclays. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

On October 5, the Nets played Fanerbahce, a Turkish team, in their first preseason game. Fans of that team got to see how the area has changed firsthand.

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Fans of Turkish basketball team Fenerbahce Ulker waiting for the game. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Residential Development

Barclays has led to new residential high rises in the area with more imminent development to come. That will mean that more people will be in Prospect Heights and Fort Greene to support local businesses and have easy access to events.

The modular apartment building next to Barclays. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

The modular apartment building (B2) next to Barclays. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

According to Woodwork‘s manager, Matt Wood, the number of families that will move into the area will bring in more schools, which will develop a community atmosphere.

The modular apartment building looking away from the entrance to Barclays. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

The modular apartment building next to Barclays. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

The area behind Barclays is largely residential with brownstones and local shops.

This is what Barclays Center looks like from the opposite side of the main entrance. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

View of Barclays Center opposite the main entrance. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

New Commerce

KITH, which is one block away from Barclays, is a store that has contemporary menswear that rebranded its Brooklyn location in August of 2015. KITH is very bright inside and sells top-tier sneakers, shirts and jackets. KITH adds a new flavor to the area and could be the first of others similar to it.

KITH on Flatbush Ave. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

The inside of KITH, which is located on Flatbush Ave near Bergen St. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Access to events at Barclays

Arena management has a goal of making tickets in certain sections as affordable as possible to maximize the amount of Brooklynites who can attend games and concerts. According to the Community Affairs Manager, Terence Kelly, they have a “We Are Brooklyn” campaign, which allows locals to have season tickets for as low as $25. According to Kelly, they give tours to local youth.

They are committed to bringing Brooklynites to events free of charge. “For every single event in the building we have a commitment to at the very least donate a suite, a box with four tickets in the lower bowl and 50 tickets in the upper bowl,” Kelly said.

The Barclays Center roof with its new green grass called sedum. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

The new green roof at Barclays Center, which is called sedum. It provides extra sound proofing for games and concerts. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

2015 NBA All-Star Weekend

In 2015, All-Star Weekend was at MSG and Barclays Center. The 3-Point Contest, Dunk Contest and Skills Challenge were all held at Barclays. Based on these events being in Brooklyn, there was increased outreach in schools during the second week of February.

All-Star Weekend was in Brooklyn with the help of the N.Y.P.D. and F.D.N.Y. “New York is used to hosting world-class sporting events, and with the help of the mayor’s office, the N.Y.P.D and N.Y.F.D., and other key players, the All-Star Game was very integrated,” the NBA’s Patrick Sullivan told BizBash, in an article.

Barclays Center during All-Star Weekend

Barclays Center during All-Star Weekend. The Welcome to Brooklyn area was set up for the week as an entrance/security area. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

According to Kelly, the NBA House was at LIU Brooklyn’s Paramount Theatre and it was “transformed into basketball-themed activities showcasing the excitement of the NBA and the game of basketball for fans of all ages.” NBA Hall of Famers signed autographs and participated in basketball clinics with local children.

NBA House during All-Star Weekend

The NBA House in LIU Brooklyn’s Paramount Theatre during All-Star Weekend. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

There was also a Day of Service at PS. 9 in Prospect Heights. At PS. 9, “NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, Jason Collins, Barclays Center and Nets CEO Brett Yormark and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams dedicated a new court and led students in an afternoon basketball clinic promoting a healthy, active lifestyle for children and families,” according to Kelly.

The practice court inside of the Barclays Center. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

The practice court inside of Barclays Center. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

As part the NBA All-Star Fit Celebration, the NBA hosted basketball and fitness clinics in 20 Brooklyn schools. The NBA, NYC Department of Education and Kaiser Permanente helped make this a reality. NBA players interacted with kids in schools throughout Brooklyn to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

These events at Barclays, from September-December, brought many more people to the area: (Empire State Development Corp)

Performer Day(s) of the event
Jay-Z September 28, 2012
Harlem Globetrotters October 7, 2012
Barbra Streisand October 11 & 13, 2012
Journey October 30, 2012
Barclays Center Classic November 8, 2012
Justin Bieber November 12, 2012
Coaches vs. Cancer November 16-17, 2012
Disney on Ice November 27-Dec. 2, 2012
The oculus before the Madonna concert. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

The oculus before Madonna’s concert on September 19, 2015. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Islanders

The preview for the Islanders sign on the outside of the train station at Barclays Center. This sign went up the weekend of the 12th. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

The preview for the Islanders sign on the outside of the train station at Barclays Center. This sign went up the weekend of September 12th. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

The Islanders, who played at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale since 1972, began their first season in Brooklyn on October 9. As a result of the Islanders move to Brooklyn, the multi-purpose arena will host 41 more home contests than they did in its first three years of existence, which will lead to more employment opportunity for Brooklynites. This will bring in more revenue into the local economy.

A fan holds a sign outside of Barclays Center before the Islanders home opener. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

A fan holds a sign outside of Barclays Center before the Islanders home opener. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Many diehard Islanders fans from Long Island take the Long Island Rail Road to Atlantic Terminal for games. It’s a convenient way to get to the game because the station is right across the street. They also don’t have to worry about driving after the game like they did when the team played at Nassau Coliseum. The mobs of people that come out of Atlantic Terminal before each Islanders game lead to more people patronizing restaurants and bars in the area than when the Islanders don’t play.

Islanders fans getting of of the LIRR and walking up to get to Barclays Center. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Islanders fans getting of of the LIRR and walking up to get to Barclays Center. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

The Islanders played a matinee game on Columbus Day against the Winnipeg Jets at Barclays. Many Long Islanders attended the game.

Islanders fans leaving Barclays Center after the second home game. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Islanders fans leaving the arena after the second home game. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Chamber of Commerce

Steininger, the VP of the Brooklyn Chamber, tries to help businesses acclimate to having an enormous arena in their vicinity. “We try to help these businesses adapt to the new customers that they can take advantage of,” Steininger said. “Putting it out there that they should take advantage of that.”

The chamber has adopted social media and try to get area restaurants/bars to use it to help increase their customer base. This is a key way that they can market themselves because many at the arena are on Yelp or Twitter before/after events. “We have a program where we help them to market themselves on free platforms like Google, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter,” Steininger added. “Using all those basic platforms that customers are using and helping them to actually track the people that are coming out of the stadium.”

Impact on Local Restaurants/Bars

Yayo, which is one block away on 5th Avenue, has seen its customer base improve as a result of Barclays. According to Geronimo Diaz, manager for the last 14 years, business has increased 15 to 20 percent as a result of Barclays.

This is Geronimo Diaz, the manager of the Yayo Restaurant.

Geronimo Diaz inside El Viejo Yayo. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Diaz has seen the biggest spike on concert nights. “Those days usually provide a 20 percent improvement,” Diaz said. Many people come to eat and drink before they go to attend concerts.

The Mark Anthony concert is one that gave the greatest boost in business partly because of his loyal fan base. “The difference for Mark Anthony was that a lot of people came before to eat and a lot more people came after the concert to eat,” Diaz said.

In terms of sporting events, they see the biggest spike in business when there are college games or high profile Nets games. Boxing has led to more people coming back to the restaurant later at night than normal, which leads to more revenue.

Woodwork is a soccer bar two blocks away on Vanderbilt Avenue that opened six years ago as the area was starting to gentrify.

Business triples during happy hour on nights that the Nets have a game versus non-game nights, and Wood has found that social media has been key for them.

“We have tried flyering, we have done advertising here and there,” Wood said. “Twitter tends to be the best thing we can do, in just keeping our regulars valued and regular.”

The best way to draw an increased crowd to Woodwork is to advertise with the people who work at the green arena.

“One good thing we have done for ourselves is we have met the guys that work in the Barclays, so we will have catering for the camera crews from the events at the games,” Wood added. “But that is again a connection that we saw to make some friends and go do ourselves. They fell in love with us, and our food, and they come in for drinks and it worked out pretty well for us.”

When Jay-Z and Beyonce came over to Woodwork after Beyonce’s concert at Barclays in the summer of 2013 it really helped publicize the business. Beyonce tweeted to her millions of followers that she was there and so many people found out about Woodwork and came as a result of her tweet.

Barclays has improved property values by making the surrounding area a more appealing place to live, which is a plus for getting returning customers. “It has made what was a relatively undesirable part of Brooklyn very desirable,” Wood said. “I think the best thing a Center like that does is it makes the surrounding area more livable and drives up property values.”

Frederick Whinery, who was the assistant general manager of the Bleecker Street location of Bark Hot Dogs, said that more business has definitely been brought to the Bergen St. location due to the influx of people in the area.

Inside of Bark Hot Dogs. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Inside of Bark Hot Dogs. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

However, Whinery noticed that business changed in the past six to eight months (2014-2015) because more businesses have come into the area spreading out the customers. “When we were the only burger joint in the area, during the first year of Barclays Center, the impact was more substantial than since Shake Shack opened,” Whinery said. He thinks that there will be a jump in business when the new residential complex that is going up right next to Barclays opens.

“We still get pops for Nets games or big concerts – we certainly see a spike in business,” Whinery said.

Derek Shriftman, who is the director of operations, added that they are excited that the Islanders are now in Brooklyn. Shriftman is pleased that Islanders players have come to Bark and hopes that more do so.

“Recently an Islanders player came to Bark to eat and interacted with the owner and he mentioned that he really wants to bring the entire team,” Shriftman said. “We of course would love to have the Islanders players come here, it would be a great publicity event.”

Derek Shriftman is the Director of Operations at Bark. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Derek Shriftman is the Director of Operations at Bark. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Pop artists like Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake are singers who have given this “locally and sustainably-sourced, American, fast casual establishment” the most substantial increase in business.

According to Bark’s manager, if Islanders fans bring their game ticket they will get 10 percent off their meal. They have various packages on reduced priced hot dogs for pre and post game/concert for Islanders ticket holders, and this is all marketed through social media.

Kevin Read is the manager of Alchemy on 5th Ave. two blocks away from the arena. He has seen the nearby blocks change and thinks “it is great having a new vibrant downtown and a stadium in the neighborhood.”

Concerts are a bigger draw than games in improving business. “Here we tend to get a lot of business for straight rock concerts,” Read said. The one drawback he has found is that it has hurt some small businesses in the area because rents have gone up.

Alchemy had a drastic increase in customers the first year because there were a lot more concerts than in the last two years. “At this point, the third year now, the concert schedule has gone down considerably and that is where we see the biggest difference,” Read said. “So, the difference from before they opened is less now than the first year that they opened.”

McMahon’s, a sports bar on 5th Avenue, has a substantial increase in business before/after games and concerts. It has more space than many area establishments and is packed with Islanders fans on game days.

Daniel Kissane, who is the head bartender, emphasized that since they are right next to the arena they are more of an attraction and their profits really increase due to people who come before/after games. “On game and concert days our dining room is pack filled with people who want to go over to Barclays,” Kissane said.

Kissane said the biggest bump in customers for a concert at McMahon’s was when Justin Timberlake performed December 14. Since a lot of young people were at the arena that night, the upstairs and downstairs were completely full, which caused a lot more revenue.

For the most part, the upstairs bar is only for private parties, but they opened it for the Timberlake concert. “For Justin Timberlake, 20,000 people were attending the concert, so we put staff upstairs and opened up and luckily we did because both floors were completely packed,” Kissane said.

Justin Eagle, who has been a manager and bartender at Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue on Flatbush Ave. since September of 2013, said events at Barclays cause a drastic increase in business.

Inside of Morgan's Barbecue on Flatbush.

Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue gets much more crowded on event nights. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

They had a substantial boost in business during All-Star Weekend. Eagle pointed out that they are different from some restaurants/bars because winter usually slows down for them.  “So that weekend, even though it was the middle of the winter, felt a lot more like the summer months,” Eagle said.

“The weekend that Pearl Jam played and the one that the Black Keys played were probably the two biggest weekends that we have ever had,” Eagle added. “Those were out of control.”

On March 2, the Nets played the Golden State Warriors and Jarrett Jack hit a game-winner for Brooklyn. There was a significant post-game boost after that game since people wanted to celebrate, according to Eagle.

Inside of the Burrito Kitchen on Flatbush Avenue.

Tables and decorations at the Burrito Bar and Kitchen on Flatbush Ave. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Impact on Schools/Students

Barclays reaches out to schools through its Brooklyn Nets Foundation. Barclays has a Net Educators Mini Grant Program where 20 $1,000 grants are given to deserving middle school teachers for their in class programming, Kelly added.

According to Kelly, season ticket holders donate their unused tickets to deserving students. Students receive tickets to games based on their continued program participation and their grades. Kelly said the complimentary tickets that the kids receive are almost always very good.

“I met two kids from an elementary school in Brownsville,” Kelly said. “They won their tickets through this program, arrived with their grandmother, and were sitting in what we call the Hollywood Rows, which mean that they were in the first four rows of the entire building.”

View of the Barclays Center from the Atlantic Avenue - Barclays Center train station. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

View of the arena from the Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center train station. Nine different train lines come into this station. Photo by Nathan Weiser.

Local Impact

Barclays Center has been a success because area restaurants make more money on event days and since arena management has made it their priority to impact area schools and residents. A positive is the jobs that Barclays has given locals.

“What we did for All-Star week is we worked with one of the Chambers to hire around 150 to 200 employees just to work with crowd control,” Steininger said. “So, 200 Brooklynites found, again it may have only been a week’s worth of work, but it is a week’s worth of work that was directly putting money straight into the pockets of Brooklynites.”

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