Food & Drink

Should Barclay’s Center sell booze? (You guuuys…)

The view of Barclay's Center from Tim's apartment

Having lost nearly every other fight in the battle against Atlantic Yards development, opponents are now turning their hopes on stopping everyone from having fun there. The Local reports the foes of the Barclay’s Arena will converge on a public hearing Tuesday night to tell the Community Board to deny the stadium a booze permit, presumably leaving thousands of would-be Nets fans to sit in their seats quietly and discuss literature while the basketball is being played. The Local says opponents are worried about “drunk guys vomiting and peeing in the street” if they are able to get soused up in the 18,000-seat monstrosity.

It sounds like there’s little doubt the stadium will in fact be able to serve alcohol. So here we have another example of what is becoming classic Brooklyn activism: the long retro-active fight of a lost war, the combatants who cling to the vestiges of the battlefield long after their enemies have gone off to a victory buffet at the nearest Applebee’s (and there are two near the stadium now). We saw this last year with the fight over the Prospect Park West bike lane, where those 1-percent-y car owners along the street grasped at anything they could in their lawsuit to, what, tear up the bike lane and put more car parking spaces back in? And then there’s the campaign to save Coney Island, which we all love and can’t wait to visit again this summer, but the glory days of Coney are far long passed and the steamroller of bland redevelopment is so charged up that saving the wood boardwalk is the latest cause celebre there, and bound to be a losing one.

Pausing, for a second, the opponents’ assumption that all basketball fans would be some sort of army of mindless, vomit- and urine- soaking machines, let’s remember that sports will not be the only thing there: BAM will be curating cultural shows in the arena, and you better believe I expect to pay $9 for a Brooklyn Lager while watching King Lear in front of 18,000 others. It’s not going anywhere, so can’t we at least try to enjoy it?

I’m a bloggy-come-lately to the Atlantic Yards hoopla: I moved to BK right as the controversy was reaching a fever pitch but before anything had been finalized, when Freddy’s was still there and Blue Ivy was just a glimmer in Jay’s empire state of mind, which had also yet to be released. But I do live directly down the street from it now — I’m actually looking at the hulking mass of construction out our window as I type — and here’s the thing, all you would-be neo-prohibitionists: PEOPLE ALREADY PEE ON MY STREET. Drunks, bums … I even saw a bunch of Con-Ed workers doing it last week.

So while I’m not a fan of steamrolling the neighborhood into something worse, we should all recognize that the fight against the stadium has been lost, and they’re not going to blow the whole thing up and put a park there. We might as well pour a beer over the grave of civic activism, while we drink our Brooklyn water imported from Florida.

Dave, who takes the other side of this issue, in that he sees the stadium as the “sports coat-clad, Bud Light Platinum-guzzling harbinger of a dickhead apocalypse descending on Brooklyn,” says he will patently refuse to spend any money there,.

 “When I was in college and learning to play chess, my friend taught me that should I be close to losing, I should just draw the game out forever, mostly to be a pain in the ass,” he said. “I think this is the situation right now, and while I don’t have any doubt that this won’t work, and that watching the Nets (and god forbid, the Islanders) requires heavy alcohol intake, it’s like I said before: Forest City Ratner should have to jump through every hoop on the way to their ill-gotten payday.”

The Local has a kicker quote that puts this all in perspective:

“They serve alcohol at Yankee Stadium, and there are nothing but brawls — and I don’t see how this would be any different,” said Prospect Heights resident Patti Hagan. “Except that no one goes to Nets games.”


  1. eric_silver

    Correction: I think it’s featured recording artist “Blu Ivy Carter”.

    Dave can feel free to boycott all he wants. As someone who lives stumbling distance away, I’m excited to see/not-give-a-shit-about Nets games.

  2. B. Taylor

    If you’re going to write an opt ed piece about development in any neighborhood you ought to live there long enough to develop a stake in what happens. Lip service. From a transplanted nOOb.

  3. Chris

    In Tim’s defense, he has been living in the area pretty much since he moved to New York (3.5 years ago), and he moved to New York pretty much as soon as he could afford to (mid-20s), and I’m sure that if he (or anyone else making less than $300k a year) could afford to buy a place in the general proximity of Atlantic Center, he would do that as well.

    So, I’m not sure what it takes to ‘develop a stake in what happens,’ but if the qualification is property ownership rather than time and/or community involvement, then you’ve pretty much limited stakeholders to business owners (many of whom are happy for the extra business that AY will bring, from what I’ve seem) and homeowners (which many of us would love to be, but don’t quite fit in the income bracket), and I’d say that is nowhere near a comprehensive count of people with a well-reasoned and valid opinion about the AY project, one way or the other.

    Either that, or Tim’s lack of a stake is simply the unfortunate result of his being less of an arrogant blowhard than you.

  4. I heard everytime you complain about transplants, you lose 3 years off your life. As for you Eric, there’s just no accounting for good taste.

  5. Annulla

    Since when does beer = booze? In NY State, there are three types of alcohol licenses: beer only, wine & beer only, and liquor, wine & beer. If, by some extremely unlikely turn of events, the stadium was denied permission to sell liquor, they could surely be approved for one of the more easily obtained licenses and simply sell wine & beer. Or just beer, like a bodega.

  6. jessica

    there’s no need to sell vodka at a basketball game. and why should they be allowed to sell beer/alcohol til 4am? let them serve beer (and even wine) at events and then kick everyone out into the neighborhood to support local bars! they can pee where they want, but let them spend their money on us!

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