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Brooklyn Holds Court: Barclays, MSG To Battle For Big-Ticket Acts

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As the Nets and Knicks face off on the court, could there be a bigger rivalry heating up between newcomer Barclays and the venerable Madison Square Garden? NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.

In one borough, it's Madison Square garden, undergoing a $980 million top-to-bottom transformation. It is home to the Knicks and Rangers and upcoming concerts by Madonna, One Direction and Justin Bieber.

In the other borough, it's the Barclays Center, a brand-new billion-dollar arena. It's the new home of the Nets and will open with eight concerts by Nets minority owner Jay-Z, followed by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli and, also, Justin Bieber.

So is this the new inter-borough battle? Inside its "transformation center," MSG President and CEO Hank Ratner showed NY1 around one of the Garden's many new luxury suites. Ratner says MSG is and will remain NYC's preeminent venue, especially with the renovation, which leaves the exterior intact but completely rebuilds the inside.

"Whether you're sitting in the best seat in the house or at the top of the building, there are new amenities for you," he says. "There are new food service offerings, new bathrooms and new areas to go and congregate."

Of course, over in Brooklyn, Barclays developer Bruce Ratner (no relation) is also giddy about his brand-new arena.

"For the combination of providing entertainment for a child's first circus or a teenager's first concert or someone's first basketball game, it's just a wonderful thing," he says.

Also "weighing in" is Crain's Senior Reporter Matthew Flamm.

"MSG has a big name," Flamm said. "It has history. It has the most central location. But definitely, Jay-Z has raised the profile of Barclays and you have to think a lot of acts and promoters are thinking about Barclays because of him.

So one has the hype while the other has the history. But when it comes to MSG versus Barclays, Flamm says there's more than enough to go around.

"This is, actually, an opportunity that a lot of of promoters and acts have been looking for," he says.

So what does the current champ think of its challenger?

"We wish them well but, umm, MSG is MSG," Hank Ratner says.

MSG reopens after its current phase of construction in early November. The final phase is scheduled to be completed next fall. Barclays opens next Friday.

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