In 2012, the New Jersey Nets left the Garden State and returned to New York, where they had played between 1968-1977. Their destination was the shiny new Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, marking the return of pro sports to the borough, which had been bereft since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1957. The arena was originally proposed in 2004 and expected to be open in time for the 2006 season, but a number of factors including residential concerns and the economic downturn postponed groundbreaking until 2010. When the arena finally opened in time for the 2012-13 season, the Nets moved in, making it their eighth home venue in their 45-year history.
Early reviews were very positive, but now that the Nets have two seasons under their belt in Brooklyn, we revisited the Barclays Center to see if things had gotten even better.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The Barclays Center wants to make sure that you know you are in Brooklyn and to that end, every concession stand has a "Brooklyn Taste," a special item that has some connection to the area. However, this being New York City, prices are exorbitant. Take the Butcher Shop whose Grilled Filet Steak Style Sandwich sounds tempting but at $14, it is a bit much. A traditional New York-style sausage with peppers and onions is $11.75 from the same stand. At Fatty'Cue, a Smoked Brisket Sandwich is $13.75, while Pulled Chicken comes in for a dollar less. The Beef Brisket Mac and Cheese is $10.75, a relative bargain. Perhaps the best value comes from Brooklyn Bangers, with both the Brisket Banger and White Cheddar Brat costing $8.50.
Other unique stands include the Boomer and Carton Kitchen, which uses the names of two WFAN sports talk hosts (you might have heard of Boomer Esiason from his NFL exploits) and offers burgers and sandwiches for $14 or a Boom Doggy Dog for $9.75. Buffalo Boss boasts boneless wings at $10.75 or a salad for $14. If you are thinking of something a bit different, try Habana, whose Pressed Cuban Sandwich is $13 but is very tasty. Their Grilled Corn is only $5.50, while Mojo Chicken with rice and beans is $11.75.
Your typical arena fare is also available here, but even that has some Brooklyn connection and is similarly overpriced. McClure's Potato Chips are $4.25; a Black and White Cookie from Beigel's Bakery runs $5, and Stinky Bklyn's Rice Krispy Treat is $6. Finally, there is a Four-Cheese Mac for $6.50.
Beer is widely available with prices ranging from $8.50 to $10.75. Coca-Cola products are $5.50 for a regular fountain soda and $6 for a souvenir, the same price for a bottle. Water is also available for $5.
The designated driver program here offers a bucket of popcorn, instead of the usual soda, so if you are not going to drink alcohol, sign up and you can at least snack for free. There are water fountains around the concourse and you can fill up an empty bottle if you want to avoid the charges for soda.
Overall, there is great variety with a lot of local flavors, but be prepared to pay for your dinner here. Keep in mind that this review was completed in 2014 and the new season may see even higher prices. Fortunately there are fee-free ATMs around the building should you be extra hungry and caught short of cash.
Upon entering through the main gate at the front of the building, you will find yourself in an open plaza at one end of the court, with a DJ spinning tunes right in front of you. This is one of the brightest areas in the arena as much of it has been designed to match the Nets' uniforms, with a very dark style prevalent throughout the concourses and seating bowls.
There are banners representing each of the Nets achievements; originally these were in the new Nets' colors but complaints have resulted in the old colors being displayed here, which is a positive move, as history should be represented accurately. The history of the Nets organization is also present with pictures, jerseys and memorabilia placed all around Barclays to remind those in attendance that the team's foundation began elsewhere.
There are also pictures from the Black Fives era along the lower concourse, take the time to stop and read the captions; few venues are as concerned about the history of their neighborhood as the Barclays Center and this small exhibit is a brilliant way to educate the local populace about a forgotten time.
During the game, there are your typical NBA chants, cheerleaders (Brooklynettes), the Brooklyn Knight mascot,and t-shirt cannons and other contests. Like the Knicks, there is a celebrity row and every so often, one will be introduced on the big screen.
If you are sitting in the last few rows of the upper deck, it will be very dark, so much so that you will not be able to read the free program that is given out upon entering. This has been a complaint of many a denizen of the nosebleeds, but it has yet to be addressed.
Located in the Atlantic Yards development adjacent to downtown Brooklyn, the arena is in the center of it all in this rapidly growing area of New York City. Many tourists spend all their time in Manhattan, but a short train ride across the East River would have them exploring neighborhoods that are entirely different. With a population of 2.6 million, Brooklyn would rank 4th in the nation if it were an independent city.
There are more than a dozen neighborhoods in Brooklyn, ranging from eclectic, hipster Williamsburg to Coney Island. Exploring each of these could take days, but for those visiting only for the game, there is more than enough in the vicinity of Barclays Center to keep you busy. Culturally, there are several theatres blocks away and art galleries dot the area as well. If you only have time to visit one attraction, consider the Brooklyn Museum, just one stop away on the 4 express train or a half-hour walk, the much better option on a nice day.
For eats, try Junior's at the corner of DeKalb and Flatbush. This New York institution is famous for its cheesecakes and desserts but also has a full menu with sandwiches and burgers. It will be closing soon as the area continues to be developed, but will return. The nearest sports bar is a Buffalo Wild Wings in the Atlantic Terminal just across Atlantic Avenue from the arena.
This area is undergoing massive development and promises to be a destination in itself in a few years, but even now it is still worth visiting before a Nets game.
The one component that Brooklyn comes up short on is fans. I have attended several games here and find the crowd to be fairly timid. They arrive late and make little noise for having a pretty competitive team with several future Hall of Famers. This came to the attention of the sports world when the team's Twitter account called out the fans, telling them that a playoff crowd should sound like the one in Toronto, their first-round opponent in the 2014 playoffs. Tepid was the most accurate word used; they just lack the passion that comes with time.
I have also had a couple of negative experiences here with fans who did not stand up for the national anthem and then spent most of the game going back and forth to get food, constantly annoying those with aisle seats. A recent game saw an obnoxious supporter screaming at visiting fans to "Get Out of My House" but it wasn't Jay Z or any other owner, just the sort of guy with typical false fan bravado. Fortunately, there is one fan worth mentioning: Mr. Whammy. Nearly 80, he can be seen behind the opposing basket during the first half where he tries to distract those making free throws.The team is still new here and it will take a while to get a devoted fan base that appreciates the game itself, but if more fans act like Mr. Whammy and less like the others I have seen, then this area will improve as the team continues to settle in.
Public transit is the way to go here, with the arena sitting atop one of the largest transit hubs in the city. The stop at Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center serves the B, D, N, Q, R, 2,3,4,and 5 trains, while the C train is nearby at Lafayette Avenue and the G is at Fulton Street. The Long Island Rail Road also terminates at Atlantic Terminal. I can't imagine why you would drive here, as traffic in the evenings is painful and parking is expensive if you can even find it, as the Barclays Center has no dedicated lots.
The front of the arena is aesthetically different than any other venue in pro sports and you should take some time to admire it, walking back a block or two if you have time. The arena features three articulated bands with a glass wall covered by a latticework composed of 12,000 steel panels that are intentionally left with a layer of rust, evoking thoughts of Brooklyn's brownstones. A large oculus looms over an exterior plaza outside of the main arena entrance, with a video board above the doors. Note that this plaza in front of the main entrance is where secondary sellers can be found, but be aware that police officers are about and will issue summons if you are caught.
Security is tight here as in all venues in NYC, and you will have to remove metal items from your pocket and go through a metal detector before entering the building. If you show up just before game time, you can expect to wait several minutes as they take it seriously here, so leave yourself some extra time so you don't miss tipoff.
Once inside, the concourses are wide and you shouldn't have a problem moving about except at halftime, particularly upstairs, where the narrower footprint can get very crowded. There are lineups for the restrooms at this time as well, so if you need to beat the rush, leave a few seconds before the halftime horn.
Escalators are available on both sides of the stadium to take you to the second level, while elevators behind section 231 are a good way to get down to the lower level after the game. As you exit, expect a mad crush to get back into the subway. I suggest walking to another entrance a couple of blocks away or biding your time at one of the nearby bars if you are not in a rush.
Finally, there are a couple of annoyances here that must be noted. First are the ushers, who are constantly checking tickets regardless of seating location. I understand the need to have ushers guarding the club areas and courtside sections as fans have paid good money to avoid the riff-raff, but in the upper deck baseline seats, there is no need to check everyone's ticket. I had taken my seat about an hour before the game and the usher appeared out of nowhere to ensure that I was capable of matching the section, row, and seat number on my ticket to that in the stadium. An even more surprising visit came a few minutes later as I was taking notes on my iPad. I was told that these ubiquitous devices are not permitted in the seating bowl. No reason is given, but the Barclays Center's page on prohibited items confirms this.
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Single-game ticket prices for the 2014-15 season have not been released at the time of this review, but looking at season tickets, you can expect to pay quite a bit. The cheapest option for new buyers is $45 for baseline seats in the upper bowl, while those who bought in two years ago have a much cheaper renewal rate. This discrepancy means the secondary market is the place to get your tickets, as season ticket holders will unload extras far below face value. Prices do vary widely depending on the opponent with the rival Knicks the toughest to get, but you can find yourself inside for less than $10 when lesser foes are in town.
The baseline seats in the first few rows offer the best value because they are actually closer to the floor than the sideline seats and are less costly as well. Sections 201-202 and 230-231 are recommended as they offer the quickest escape by elevator after the game.
If you buy from the box office and chow down on food, this will cost you a considerable chunk of change, but budget-conscious fans can find tickets for far less and take advantage of the free popcorn to enjoy the game without breaking the bank, leading to a good return on investment.
First, you will note the Ebbets Field flagpole at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush, installed to honor the return of pro sports to Brooklyn.
The aforementioned Black Fives exhibit is worth of an extra point.
There are charging stations that are good for most devices in case you need a bit of juice.
If you need a haircut or shave, there is even a barbershop along the lower concourse. Like everything else, it is overpriced, with a shave-n-cut combo $75, or a hangover treatment at $25.
One thing I enjoyed before the game was the Oblivious Cam, where a fan who is ensconced in his smart phone is shown on the scoreboard while a timer counts up the number of seconds before he realizes that he is missing his 15 minutes of fame.
One final point for the unique aesthetics that are not universally appreciated, but nonetheless give the building a distinct place amongst sporting venues in the United States.
The Nets have gone all the way with their dark uniforms and the matching interior of the Barclays Center, which have led to the nickname Darklays Center. In truth, there is a lot to like here, from the location, the effort to respect the history of the franchise and its new neighborhood, to the food choices. Yes, prices are high, but this is New York City and people line up to pay. If you are looking for an affordable vacation, you are probably not heading to the Big Apple anyway. On the other hand, if you find yourself in Manhattan and the Nets have a game that day, consider a day in Brooklyn followed by an evening at the Barclays Center. You will not be disappointed.
After years of construction and controversy, professional sports have finally returned to Brooklyn, NY. The Barclays Center, the $1 billion project that was conceived in March of 2004, opened its doors in September 2012; revitalizing a crosstown rivalry with several sports organizations. The newly crowned Brooklyn Nets will kick off their inaugural season on November 1, 2012, and it was recently announced that the NHL's New York Islanders would be leaving Nassau Coliseum and relocating to the Barclays Center. Could Barclays compete against one of the most famous arenas in the world, Madison Square Garden? Or will it be plagued with failed teams in a borough where the residents have unbreakable ties to other teams? Only time will tell.
I saw one of the worst games of the season there, a dreary 76-72 loss that kept the crowd sleepy for much of it. Food has great options but unbelievably overpriced. $15.75 for a sandwich?! Free popcorn for designated drivers is much better.
The atmosphere was muted for much of the game and I was not impressed with many of the fans, some of whom refused to stand for the national anthem and others who stood up to leave immediately after a 3-minute TV timeout. Tickets are not cheap, it would be $35 to sit near the top in the corner, very far away. The seating bowl in the upper deck is also incredibly dark so the free programs can only be enjoyed on the subway home.
Charging stations and charge-free ATMs were welcome and Ebbets Flagpole and Black Fives Era displays add a bit of history.
Ultimately, stadium reviews hinge on the game at hand - we've all been to a venue where the stadium was rocking one night due to a big rival in town, and quiet the next as the players mailed it in. My visit to Barclays Center was the latter and hence the low score.
I've been to plenty of Net games since they moved to Brooklyn in October 2012. One thing hasn't changed there. The arena is by far the darkest building I've ever seen a sporting event in. That includes the seating area & the concourses too. I like to keep score when I attend any sporting event. Sometimes it's not easy. Here it's practically impossible. Luckily I come equipped with my little flashlight which helps me but it's still a pain in the butt to see what I'm trying to write. In addition, the fashionably late arriving crowd is very annoying. In order to appreciate this night club experience fully, you need to have a spare paycheck available.
79 N 11th St
Brooklyn, NY 11249
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