The new Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn has become a reality after nearly a decade of discussion, debate, compromise—and hard work. The neighborhood, the borough and indeed the entire city will reap the project’s benefits for decades to come. Developer Bruce Ratner deserves congratulations for his determination and his vision, now realized.
The centerpiece of Mr. Ratner’s arena is, of course, the Brooklyn Nets, which will become the borough’s first major-league sports team since the Dodgers left after the 1957 baseball season. But the Barclays Center is more than just another state-of-the-art playground for great athletes. It’s also a world-class concert venue, as Jay-Z will demonstrate with a week of concerts to celebrate the opening, beginning Sept. 28. And it will play host to the work of local artists who will celebrate and commemorate the borough’s history and culture. Three commissioned works are in the final stages of installation, with more to come.
The owner of the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, said the arena could become a milestone in Brooklyn history—like the famous bridge that bears the borough’s name. That claim might sound outlandish, but remember that the arena is part of a larger, even-more ambitious plan to redevelop Downtown Brooklyn. When the entire Atlantic Yards project is done, Mr. Prokhorov’s boast could easily become reality.
The Barclays Center will get another burst of attention on Nov. 1, when the Nets play their first regular-season NBA game against the Knicks. But as the season wears on, attention will focus on the rest of Mr. Ratner’s vision. He plans to build a series of more than a dozen buildings on 22 acres surrounding the arena. Ground will soon be broken for a 32-story skyscraper that will be home to more than 350 apartments—and half of them will be reserved for tenants with low or moderate incomes.
The development will continue to create hundreds of construction jobs in the years to come, and when the project is complete, Downtown Brooklyn will have a new look and a new vibe. Will it rival the Brooklyn Bridge as a landmark, a symbol of the borough’s transformation? It may be too early to say, despite Mr. Prokhorov’s enthusiasm.
But there can be little doubt that Mr. Ratner, like Washington Roebling, has big ambitions, and the Barclays Center is just the beginning.