JAY-Z, in Familiar Territory, to Open Barclays Center

NETS Basketball - NETS News

September 26, 2011

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Shawn "JAY-Z" Carter announced today that he will be the 1st performer to play the Barclays Center when the venue opens in September 2012. The NETS investor also confirmed the team will become the "Brooklyn Nets" in the 2012-13 season.

Suited in a charcoal Tom Ford two-piece, JAY-Z stood on the suite level concourse of the Barclays Center construction site. Looking out past the Atlantic Terminal at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, the cultural icon pointed to a spot two blocks down, right where State Street met Flatbush.

“That used to be my building!” he exclaimed, clearly enjoying the view of his old apartment at 560 State St. Having grown up in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Marcy Projects, just eight minutes away, and moved to Boerum Hill before blowing up, the man born Shawn Carter couldn’t stop from smiling at how his life’s journey took him such a short, significant distance.

The return to familiar territory was brought about by JAY-Z’s partnership with NETS Basketball. An investor with the team since 2004, the hip-hop legend was on-hand to announce that he will be the first performer at the Barclays Center when the arena officially opens in September 2012. Additionally, flanked by 25 students from his nearby alma mater, George Westinghouse High School, JAY-Z revealed the team’s name will become the “Brooklyn Nets,” beginning with the 2012-13 NBA season.

“I wanted this to happen like this, because I absolutely am humbled, and I have so much pride as a kid coming from Marcy Projects to stand here and announce two things, out of my partners and ownership: that we named the ‘New Jersey Nets’ the ‘Brooklyn Nets’ and the second is that I open it with a concert,” JAY-Z said. “We’re opening this arena with a concert; maybe one, maybe two, maybe three. I appreciate all the support from Brooklyn, because without Brooklyn I wouldn’t be standing here right now, humbled and excited. So get ready for the Brooklyn Nets. Westinghouse make some noise!”

The announcement took place in the Atlantic Terminal Plaza, across the street from the Barclays Center, and the site of one of New York City’s top three transit hubs. Nine NYC Subway lines converge at the station, joined by the Long Island Rail Road, providing easy public transportation to an arena that will host events including professional basketball, college basketball, college hockey, boxing, indoor tennis, family entertainment and concerts, as well as unique international performances in conjunction with the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Twelve months from its grand opening, the Barclays Center is being built at a frenetic pace: 75 percent of the steel has been erected, and the roof is expected to enclose the arena early next year. Brett Yormark, the President of NETS Basketball as well as President and CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, opened the press conference by looking ahead to the arena’s opening (“The Barclays center will be defined by unprecedented hospitality along with an extraordinary volume and variety of sports and events.”) and introduced the other members of the dais: Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner, Chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and JAY-Z.

Ratner took over and spoke of his excitement regarding the programming to take place at the Barclays Center, as well as the arena’s ability to benefit the community by bringing jobs and economic activity to the neighborhood. He continued on, thanking the construction workers and professionals who helped develop the building, along with the many government workers – from the borough, on through the mayor’s office and even to the governor in Albany – who aided in the project push. Finally, he addressed JAY-Z.

“You’ve earned respect, not only of the people here and so many other people, but the children and youth of our community,” said Ratner, refocusing his audience. “And as JAY-Z knows, this arena is largely about the children and youth of Brooklyn. We all remember those first moments: that first circus, that first basketball game, that first ice hockey or whatever it happens to be. And we want to give those warm first moments to every child in Brooklyn, and have that feeling and inspiration that will lead there to become more JAY-Zs, more Brett Yormarks and more of the many, many people who are out here.”

Markowitz followed with a slew of thank yous, concluding that the “ghosts of Ebbetts Field will forever be lifted” once the arena officially opens next year. After Yormark thanked members of Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s management team, as well as the Barclays executives who struck a deal for the arena’s naming rights, he introduced JAY-Z for the official announcement.

Once JAY-Z made official the news, he jokingly scolded the Westinghouse students for dilly-dallying (“Now go back to your seats!”), his smile wide, standing just a few minutes away from where he once was one of them.


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