The Barclays Question

At the prompting of one outspoken reader, here’s a little more about the latest debate going on with the Atlantic Yards Project.

Years ago, Barclays Bank in England was involved in the slave trade and did business with South Africa during apartheid. Today, they’ve got the naming rights for the stadium that’s part of the massive Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn.

Critics have seized on this as more evidence that Bruce Ratner’s project is at odds with needs and sensitivities of the local community. Here’s a statement sent over to me by Daniel Goldstein of the opposition group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn:

“In addition to the concerns about the Ratner deal with Barclays raised by our elected representatives-Councilmembers James, Jeffries, Barron-Mr. Green, and Reverend Daughtry, there is also concern about Ratner reaping all of the $300 million for the naming-rights of a publicly funded arena; an arena which is hypothetical as its viability is currently under review by a federal court in an eminent domain lawsuit.”

Monetary questions aside, is the name of the stadium a relevant point?

Daily News man Errol Louis, who is responsible for prompting the most recent mini-debate, says that it isn’t. Yesterday, he wrote:

“If the critics are serious about removing the names of slave-linked institutions from public view, they have a lot of work to do. Peter Stuyvesant (as in Stuy-Town, Bed-Stuy and Stuyvesant High) owned 50 slaves. George Washington (Washington Ave., Washington Street, Washington Heights, etc.) owned upward of 200. Chase sponsors dozens of community events in every corner of the city. Where does it end?”

It seems like a reasonable question. Does anyone have an answer?

– Azi Paybarah