BY HRISTINA TISHEVA
HOST INTRO: The Barclays Sports Center in Brooklyn is the future home of the New Jersey Nets. Many Brooklynites–even sports fans–have complained about the project since it was first announced in 2003. But now that it’s opening in September, some of the arena’s neighbors are looking forward to the jobs it will create. Hristina Tisheva reports.
Tony Delpino just finished basketball practice in a park at Bergen and 6th Avenue… around the corner from the sports center. Bouncing the ball, he passes the construction site but doesn’t even look at it. Delpino doesn’t think it should be there.
SOUND: Basketball bouncing
DELPINO: You move so many people out of the area who lived there their whole lives, so maybe they don’t know anything besides that section of Brooklyn. I can imagine it was hard for them.
Delpino is referring to hundreds of people that the developers, Forest City Ratner, relocated. They got the support of New York’s Supreme Court, which ruled Ratner could use eminent domain — that’s seizing private property without owners’ consent, but compensating them. Even Delpino’s aunt was moved to a neighborhood of her choice – Bensonhurst. He says she was unhappy in the beginning but got over it. Elizabeth Gold is not over it.
GOLD: There also wasn’t even the slightest effort made to think about making this into something special and just another ugly thing.
Gold wasn’t relocated. But she’s lived nearby for 15 years. She hated the way the developers just built whatever they wanted.
GOLD: Some attention to the make up of the neighborhood would have been nice.
A lot of people share Gold’s view. A series of documentaries called The Battle for Brooklyn followed residents’ efforts to stop the project.
DOCUMENTARY: This fight gets ugly at times because you have a community that is at war with itself and you have no adults in the room. It’s left to a corporate entity and a community.
But all the movie did was delay construction for six years. Now rent in the area is up. And some business can’t afford it. One of them is Triangle Sports across the street from the venue at 5th and Flatbush avenues. Ashante Brulan has worked there for 8 years. But he’s not worried about finding new work.
BRULAN: Once they build it, they’re going to need to staff it. So it’s going to create jobs that way. I heard they’re going t hire Brooklyn residents. So, that’s a good thing.
Right now, about 650 people work daily in and around the arena.
SOUND: Fading up and down sound of construction work going on.
Barclays says it will have about 1,000 jobs to fill when it opens at the end of September. It’s not clear how many will go to Brooklyn residents says Barclays vice president of marketing, Elisa Pedilla..
PEDILLA: I can tell you that Barclays center will be an equal opportunity employer so there will be jobs for anyone who is qualified for the positions that we’re going to be posting.
But Brooklyn food vendors will get special treatment. Barclays is already accepting applications online. Some people are still wondering what the fuss is about– including David Philip, who’s been a Brooklyn resident for 25 years.
PHILIP: The space’s been there. It’s been a train yard for years. Nobody complained about a train yard being there. Now because it’s a building, everybody has a problem with that. But it’s a big thing for Brooklyn. It puts Brooklyn back on the map.
Philip says he’s planning to go see a game. And so is everyone interviewed for this story. Even Elizabeth Gold, who resents the project.
SOUND: People playing basketball.
They say they’ll watch the Nets because…they’re right in their backyard. Hristina Tisheva. Columbia Radio News.