After years of planning, controversy and construction, Barclays Center made its public debut Friday with a sold-out concert by Brooklyn native and Nets' part owner Jay-Z. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
Thousands flocked to Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues Friday for the opening of Barclays Center.
Jay-Z christened the arena with a concert, the first of eight sold-out shows.
"No other tickets but the first night," said one concert-goer. "Inaugural. Inaugural."
"I'm from Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy," said another. "We got the first tickets to see the first show for Jay-Z. All day. Brooklyn in the house."
Many didn't have even have tickets but came out to take it all in.
"This is legendary," said one person who came despite not having tickets. "Whether or not we got tickets, we wanted to be here."
It's billed as the first billion-dollar arena, the home of the borough's first major professional sports team in more than 50 years: the Brooklyn Nets.
The complex took nearly a decade to finish because of lawsuits, design changes and the recession. But as the saying goes: build it and they will come. NY1 found concert-goers from Manhattan, Connecticut and Long Island.
"We stayed in a hotel here in Downtown Brooklyn and we took the subway here," said one concert-goer. "We wanted to experience the new subway connection."
"The subway commute was really easy," said another concert-goer. "It was like three stops. We got here in 10 minutes. We avoided rush hour traffic and we got here in one piece with our stilettos on."
Nets players and celebrities walked the red carpet.
There were Brooklynites from Jay-Z's old stomping grounds: the Marcy Houses.
"Me coming here to see my man representing Brooklyn for the first time here in the borough I grew up in, absolutely wonderful," said one concert-goer. "I'm ecstatic."
Community Members Protest Opening Of Barclays Center
Several community activist groups protested outside the new Barclays Friday, some demonstrating against gun violence, some with the Occupy movement and some who have opposed the arena project from the start.
Protesters said developer Forest City Ratner failed to deliver on promises of affordable housing and full-time jobs while land seized through eminent domain remains vacant.
Some workers are suing, saying training programs offered through the project that promised work and union membership in exchange for several months of unpaid labor never came through.
"Our pursuit is to send a strong message that will prevent these types of practices in our community by this development or any other,” said Candace Carponter of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.
"The entire area behind this arena that is not laying fallow, that has now been demolished,” said Kathleen Noriega, an electrician.
"We really want to put the pressure on the city and state authorities that are regulating this site to make sure that the commitments of the developer are kept," said Ron Shiffman, a former member of the NYC Planning Commission.
Activists said no affordable housing units are currently under construction and plans for future units are significantly less than necessary.
Police were in full force on the street, underground and horse mounted.