After nearly a decade of planning, design and construction marked by several high-profile lawsuits, a community-led populist uprising and the near collapse of the global financial system, Barclays Center is now officially open for business.
Developer Bruce Ratner took the honors Friday in pulling the switch to illuminate the new court for the Brooklyn Nets at an official ribbon cutting event attended by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, team co-owner Mikhail Prokhorov and at least one Nets starting player, among many others.
"We needed to build for Brooklyn the most architecturally beautiful arena in this country, and we did it," Ratner told the crowd.
The ceremony comes one week before the first of rapper and Nets co-owner Jay-Z's multiple concerts at the arena.
Even with the ticket booths deserted, basketball court cleared and concessions empty, there was a noticeable feeling of excitement in the air as the press, Forest City Ratner employees and city dignitaries milled about a complex rushed to completion in time for its Sept. 28 opening.
Outside the arena, protestors wearing large masks depicting Ratner and Borough President Markowitz weaved in and out of the crowd.
However, inside Barclays Center new atrium, the acrimony among some area residents accompanying the project almost completely disappeared—replaced instead with a sense of relief and optimism regarding the borough's future.
"Barclays will be a center of economic growth for many years to come," Bloomberg said.