Web readers ask: What WAS that pro-arena editorial?

The Brooklyn Paper
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Readers of The Brooklyn Paper were overwhelmingly dismayed — actually, stronger words are required — by last week’s editorial supporting Bruce Ratner’s now-Frank Gehry–less basketball arena plan (“Just do it,” editorial, June 12). In fact, we got more comments than we’ve ever received on an editorial. Here’s a fair synopsis.

“It’s really disheartening to acknowledge the radical shift of opinion of The Brooklyn Paper about Atlantic Yards after it was purchased by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Ratner has an abysmal record in Brooklyn for building truly dysfunctional eyesores such as the Atlantic Mall and the Metrotech.”

Matteo, Prospect Park

“Gehry or not, Brooklyn doesn’t need this arena. The economic development in this part of Brooklyn was just fine before the city and Ratner became involved. This is a land and power grab, not an opportunity for economic development. Please, spare us Brooklyn Paper’s editorial crying. Crying for the corrupt and powerful is no way to live.”

Charles, Park Slope

“Brooklyn has muddled along without a major league sports franchise for decades. It will do fine with or without Ratner’s pick-pocketing. Good riddance to the abuse of process, lack of transparency, and back-room deals by those who don’t make the borough their home.”

Freddy, Park Slope

“Wishing that a basketball arena will be an engine for economic development doesn’t make it so. The city’s Independent Budget Office reported two weeks ago that the arena would be a net fiscal loser. In other words, it would cost the taxpayers more than it would generate in economic activity.”

Eric McClure, Park Slope

“Ugh, Gersh, what did Rupert put in your water? ‘It would be foolhardy to walk away from both the economic development opportunity…’ Huh? Things are definitely topsy-turvy when The Brooklyn Paper shills for the Forest City Hangar and the New York Times condemns it.”

Brokeland, Downtown

“Even the Post thinks the new design is a piece of s—t, so perhaps The Paper is autonomous — tasteless, but autonomous.”

Rupert friend, Sydney

“Think about how far The Brooklyn Paper has fallen since five years ago when it was up for a Pulitzer for its Atlantic Yards coverage. Then, a new editor [Gersh Kuntzman] ordered up no long investigative articles, only “happy news,” or at least only snarky news.”Paul, Park Slope

“I’m pretty sure The Brooklyn Paper used to be against eminent domain. Not anymore!”

Tony, the Block

“WTF is going on in this paper? Did aliens suck out the editor’s brains or something?”

Chuck, Boerum Hill

“Just build it already. I’m out of work, my husband is out of work and most of our friends in the building industry are out of work. Isn’t it time to move beyond legal ideals and onto putting food on the table by creating jobs? I’m glad the Gehry design is gone. It didn’t fit in Brooklyn. As for The Brooklyn Paper — it’s representing Brooklyn from my perspective, although I’m just a working person, not a professional critic/editor as most of you seem to be. I think some of you folks need to grow up and get jobs.”JK, Park Slope

“Brooklyn doesn’t need this arena! I am a resident of Brooklyn. I do not want the arena. I feel the arena does not belong in Brooklyn. ‘The Brooklyn Paper’ does not represent Brooklyn well by taking this stand.”

Spidy, Bay Ridge

“Hey, JK, The Brooklyn Paper represents Rupert Murdoch! And your attitude is just what they’re counting on, which is kind of suspicious, come to think of it. All of us have jobs. I’m sorry you’re having trouble, but if you think putting your kids and grandkids into debt so Bruce Ratner can break another promise to you is smart, well, you’re not a banker, stock broker, or state senator, are you?”Paul, Park Slope

“Actually, I work in the construction business and have spent years helping to refurbish the homes that are part of Brooklyn’s ‘gentrifica­tion.’ It just cracks me up that the same yuppie/hipsters who had no problem coming into Brooklyn and buying out the elderly and poor now have a problem with Ratner doing the same thing, just on a larger scale. No one complained when, one by one, lifelong residents were displaced. But let a corporation come in and do it, let’s all start boo-hooing.”JK, Park Slope

“JK, the gentrifiers used private money, not public funds, to buy out locals, and they didn’t use the threat of eminent domain either. I just hope someone is taking names so the public at large knows who to tar and feather later.”

Freddy, Park Slope

“Some of you need to get some perspective. They are not putting Indian Point over there! It’s your tax dollars in the new Met and Yankees stadiums, too. It’s your tax dollars on some level at just about every construction site. I get that you see the community benefit package as a sham. But I don’t recall reading that Ratner broke into someone’s house and stole the milk money from under the mattress.”

Judah, Bedford-Stuyvesant

“The Paper says that the arena will ‘energize the area around it.’ So tell me how Yankee Stadium energizes 161st Street? How does Citi Field energize Willets Point? You get a big crowd that jams the surrounding streets and floods the subway. They go inside the arena to spend their money and then they leave, creating another traffic jam. If you’re lucky, really really lucky, some of them stay around to drink in a couple of sports bars.”

Lex, Park Slope

“I don’t see how The Paper could advocate for building this arena by saying it’s ‘in the right place at the right time,’ while comparing Brooklyn’s lack of a sports franchise to the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens. Have you been following the recently built stadiums in the Bronx and Queens? One is noticeably empty because of its overpriced seating, and the other is named after one of the only banks that is still asking for bailouts from the government. Why not write an editorial about an alternative plan, the Unity Plan. Here’s the link:”

Peter, Fort Greene

“Whoa! Brooklyn does not need, or deserve, the proposed arena, an architectural slap in the face. This concept is ugly beyond belief. If built, it would sting the eyes until demolished. Shame on you, Brooklyn Paper, for endorsing this crap. If an arena must be built, let’s hold out for a better design. What’s your hurry?”

Bill Harris, Boerum Hill

“The Atlantic Yards scheme has been the latest adventure in bait and switch that has characterized Ratner’s treatment of Brooklyn. How many remember that Metrotech was supposed to be a research and development park for the biotech industry? But Ratner changed it into a suburban office park complete with useless “open space.” A billion-dollar industry went to Boston, thanks to Bruce Ratner. The solution is simple: Don’t let him build anything here ever again!”Paul, Park Slope

“I cannot believe that The Paper has called for going ahead on the Atlantic Yards project merely because of the reduced price tag! To simply see it as a cheaper alternative without Frank Gehry is missing the point. The point is whether the new architect has address the same urban design impact that was arduously and publicly debated with Gehry’s design.”Christopher Chew, Park Slope

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Dan from Prospect Heights says:
Amen to all the readers above. I live a few blocks up from the proposed site. A year and a half ago, I was one of the very, very few people around who supported this thing -- I actually believed the full build-out would happen according to plan. It's clear now that we've been served up a bait-and-switch. Even if this horrible hangar gets built, it'll just bring the area down ... a bit like its immediate neighbor, Mr. Ratner's Atlantic Center. We don't need another dingy big-box mall and the wretched, suburban-sprawl cheap-o architecture it'd bring. Ironically, I had supported this Ratner project because I thought it'd dull the area-killing impact of his Atlantic Center project. Now it's clear that Atlantic Yards and Atlantic Center are two peas of the same Ratner pod.
June 19, 2009, 10:17 am
Anthony Vassallo from South Slope says:
The editorial leadership at this paper is shoddy. We've read no investigative articles (certainly not like the prior ones that actually took a stand) on issues important to Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Instead under the current editor in chief, we read plenty of articles about his bicycles and his Food Co-op shifts.

Meanwhile, let's not forget he is a former Post writer who is now reunited with his boss and whose personal financial stake is dependent on placating the parent company.

This paper even glorified the new zoning of 4th Avenue and how it would become the Park Avenue of Brooklyn with shops, retail, new life, etc. But, has he ever done a follow-up especially after I pointed out last year how terrible the buildings are that have gone up, how they have faced 4th Avenue with parking garages, there is no retail and no street presence (besides the shoddy construction that has led to delays and fines on the developers).

Of course not, because Gersh is too busy nosing around 7th Avenue or cuddling with the corporate interests of his media-hogging Berlusconi-wannabe, boss, Rupert Murdoch. It's a shame that the Brooklyn Paper has become such a useless rag that's only fit for reading the Crime Blotter. Good job, Gersh.

Finally, just a week or two ago, the paper published a puff piece feature on Robert Scarano, one of the most notorious developers in Brooklyn, whose company violates the law, which has led to the death of several workers.

The only thing I admire is that usually letters to the editor are published so the citizenry can engage in a dialogue, but our voices get drowned out by the corporate interests like Murdoch and cheerleading puppets like his editor here.
June 19, 2009, 1:20 pm
Viable Sunset Park from Sunset Park says:
When I saw the drawing I thought it was for a new Home Depot; all that orange. Who would have identified that crap as the icon of an economic recovery masterpiece.

JK-as you say, first you've lived off the "yuppie/hipsters who had no problem coming into Brooklyn and buying out the elderly and poor" and now you want to continue doing the same by working for Ratner who's "doing the same thing, just on a larger scale. No one complained when, one by one, lifelong residents were displaced." You need to talk to someone about clarifying your ethics.

And regardless of the design, why would anyone trust Bruce Ratner on any level- he's shown his hand time and again: zero aesthetics, zero ethics, only business acumen he has is in dealing with corrupt politicians. Albany has nothing on Brooklyn.

Lastly, please don't call this last wave of newly minted money, Gentrifiers. They're no gentry, they're Carpetbaggers.
June 19, 2009, 1:20 pm
Al from Park Slope says:
Regarding the new Ghery-less design, it would be referred to as a Field House. As in the same arena they have in Indianapolis, The Conseco Field House.

In the end, the design is irrelevant when you consider all the fun to be had inside of the new arena... Basketball games (High School College and Pro), concerts, the circus, Disney on Ice....etc... Maybe even an NHL team.. (The Islanders are looking to get out out of Long Island) I say its about time that the 5th largest city in the country has an arena to enjoy all the fun events I would normally have to trek to see in the city, Long island or New Jersey
June 19, 2009, 4:26 pm
Judah Spechal from Bed-Stuy says:
Anthony Vassallo from South Slope all that personal attack on an editor because he dear take a position different from yours? How enlightening it would have been to read an opposition opinion from you base on h eissue with some facts. Would you feel this way if he had taken your P.O.V.?
I don't know what his dude hanging out on 7th Ave, have to do with an arena at Atlantic & Flatbush. And I ask again did Murdoch bought in to this development? Cause all of a sudden I am reading his name as frequent as Ratner's.
June 20, 2009, 10:55 am
jess from Everywhere you want - and dont want - to be says:
Hm. This is an interesting debate. While I do agree that the arena is going to look like a glorified home depot (thanks for putting my finger on it Viable, what a perfect description of that shade of orange -- egh) I don't think the concept of the arena itself quite deserves the rage it's inspiring - much less the insituations of the paper/author being a Muroch-hugging traitor. It is interesting to see what the residents of the more well-off parts of brooklyn think about this change.

Sure, the Atlantic center malls are ugly, but for the less well-off residents in the area (and other parts of brooklyn), and for those who can't find the time after work to make a trip into the city or gently dig into brooklyn's corners for their every day needs, the atlantic center malls are a very convenient godsend. So I wouldn't knock that completely, just because it's not aesthetically pleasing to the eye, or for what its political implications may be. Whether you want to admit it or not - whether you shop there or not - it's been a pretty viable economic upturn for the area.
June 22, 2009, 10:25 am
jess from Everywhere you want - and dont want - to be says:
As far as the arena goes, I do hope that it will keep an arm out towards its community. When there are no professional games, can we ensure that high school games can be battled on its grounds as well? Will there be accessible entry to its courts for students, organizations, etc? Or will it be exclusive only to the big shots? If so, then I too might have to wave a flag of disagreement to its presence. For many parts of Brooklyn, accessibility is so unavailable, so necessary.

My other concern is not very unique I'm afraid: I wonder whether or not Brooklyn can handle the influx of traffic during game seasons.

I do want to take a moment to remind the angry readers that brooklyn's history is incredibly diverse. Not any less rooted, not any less deep, but it has many different branches. Basketball is quite a big part of many a Brooklyn youth, and having the Nets so close to their home might be a wonderful boost to the communities and its morale.

I'll be looking out for the future of this project.
June 22, 2009, 10:25 am
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Jan. 5, 2010, 5:15 am

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