I’m not a big NBA fan, and I rarely go to an actual game, but when my girlfriend scooped up some free tickets to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, to watch the Nets play the Orlando Magic, I wasn’t about to say no. I have to admit, I was extremely curious when it came to the new arena in downtown BK.
While I was probably the only person in attendance who was looking around and thinking, “I bet box lacrosse would be awesome in here!“, I know some of YOU are probably be thinking the same thing… so let’s review the arena first, and then I’ll look at the Barclay’s Center from a potential lacrosse perspective…
The first thing anyone will notice is the building’s exterior. It’s not the all-glass, Frank Gehry-designed façade we were promised during public hearings, but it definitely works. It’s a mix of glass and rust colored metal sheets, and it is very modern, but still somewhat contextual. The color of the rusted panels matches a lot of the surrounding brick and brownstone, and the glass acts as a mirror to reflect the surrounding buildings. Overall, it’s actually a very attractive stadium from the outside.
Of course then you get inside, and the magic starts all over again.
It’s not over the top luxury inside, but it’s definitely not second rate. I never felt like I was in a luxury stadium, just a really, really, really nice one. It felt like a good place to take in a sporting event, and I didn’t feel under-dressed in sneakers, khaki pants and a plaid shirt. It was pretty laid back, and nothing like a Knicks, Lakers, or Heat game, where fashion, celebrities, and off the court activity can trump an actual game.
The food options were numerous, from Barbecue to Nathan’s Hot Dogs to pizza, pasta and more. There were even Gluten-free options available, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before. The lines moved quickly, there were more than enough people working, and even the bathrooms were well organized and big enough to handle large crowds. The staff was INCREDIBLY nice and helpful, and this was truly impressive to experience.
Taking In A Game
Once we started making our way to our seats, I realized just how far away we were sitting from the court, and some level of disappointment began to set in. Of course, then we got to our seats and I was instead impressed. We may have been way back in the upper tier of the arena, but we could see everything and felt like we were right on top of the action. Four large video screens above the court also made viewing from higher up seats very easy.
The inside of the arena was kept incredibly dark. It made getting to and from your seat a little tougher, but when it came to taking in the game, it was a dream. The court was absolutely lit up, and it really popped into my field of vision. I had to really focus to notice anything going on off the court, so in terms of taking in the game itself, the view was fantastic.
Let’s Get To Lacrosse
When it comes to lacrosse being played in Brooklyn, the potential is definitely there from a Stadium standpoint, and from a fan standpoint. Box lacrosse at Barclay’s would be a great experience, and I didn’t see a single thing in practice that would make this an impossibility. With the NLL offices in NYC, the move makes even more sense, even if the NYC Titans couldn’t make it work at Madison Square Garden.
While the experience was excellent, and the potential is there, one thing stands in the way of the box lacrosse potentiality, and that is: MONEY. This year the Nets are playing in Brooklyn. Next year the Islanders of the NHL will also call Brooklyn home. Add in all the concerts and events that the arena will host and availability becomes a major issue. Add in the fact that ALL of those uses can afford to pay top dollar for the space, and cost becomes an even bigger issue.
A 16 game regular season means that only 8 games need to be played at home, and that removes some of the concern over scheduling, but it does nothing to alleviate the concerns about cost. Quite simply, Brooklyn may be too expensive, and popular, for box lacrosse right now.
The only way a team could work in Brooklyn would be if the owners of the arena itself wanted to buy or form an NLL team. The Titans could never afford the MSG rates (which is partly why they played half their games at the Nassau Coliseum), and the Blazers in Boston were also priced out from using the Garden. Without arena support, a Brooklyn team could never work.
Now, while NLL lacrosse in the Barclays’ Center seems extremely unlikely, the Barclays’ Center could STILL provide the impetus for future pro lacrosse expansion in the near future. Here’s how: When the NHL starts up again, the NY Islanders eventually move from the Nassau Coliseum to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. This frees up a ton of space in the Coliseum for Winter activity, and creates a need for that arena to fill. Perhaps box lacrosse can step into that void?
It might not be THE step I’d love to see taken, but box lacrosse back in the NYC metro area would be a good thing… and then I’d have a real reason to go to the Nassau Coliseum.
Notes from the Nets Game:
– The second tier seats were PACKED to the gills. Luxury boxes, loge seating and rows 10-30 were relatively empty for the entire game. Weird?
– The crowd was definitely into the game and fully behind Brooklyn. I’ve been to Knicks games where large portions of the crowd seemed ambivalent. This was not case in Brooklyn. Of course the Knicks also truly pack the expensive seats so…
– The food prices were high, like everywhere else in the pro sporting world, but not noticeably higher. I guess that’s a good thing.
– The Nets shop has a TON of gear in it and if I had to guess, 3 of five people I saw in attendance were in some form of Nets gear.
– The NJ Nets banners are still hanging in the rafters. They won the Atlantic Division a couple of times.
– JJ Redick couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn yesterday. Probably the worst I’ve ever seen him shoot the ball… ever.
– Jay-Z will play a New Year’s show in the Barclay’s Center with… Coldplay. Yeah, that seems like a weird mix to me too.