Monday, April 8, 2013

Rant #937: Net Gain

On Saturday evening, my son and I visited the brand spanking new Barclays Center in Brooklyn to take in a Nets game.

I had heard a lot about it from other people who have seen events there, so I figured I would take it in with my son in tow.

I was born in Brooklyn, had roots in Brooklyn for years, but since my grandmother passed away in the early 1990s, my visits to my old home borough have been few and far between.

And during that time, urban blight kicked into the borough, but right now, Brooklyn is actually the hot place to be in New York City, with major retailers, tony shops and high-end residents literally erasing the urban decay and replacing it with the upscale.

We made our way to the game a few hours before it was to begin, as we were coming from Long Island. It is a bit of a trip, made worse by the fact that unlike going to Madison Square Garden, where you take one train into Penn Station, to go to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn during this time of day, you have to take two trains, changing at another of my old hometowns, Jamaica.

It was only a slight hassle for us, as the connecting train was waiting for us as we got there. We boarded the train, and onto Brooklyn we went.

The Barclays Center, literally right across the street from the Long Island Railroad station, looks like a spaceship had landed right on Flatbush Avenue. Sure, you've got the Best Buys and Pathmarks around it, but this huge facility still kind of looks out of place in a neighborhood that was once known for its smaller, mom and pop businesses.

Anyway, we got there slightly early, and waited to get in. Once inside, we made our way to our seats. We were sitting in the upper 200 section, and let me tell you, I do mean upper. This was the steepest climb I have made since we were last at Yankee Stadium, and the lighting all the way at the top is absolutely terrible.

The row numbers are displayed so poorly up there, and the lighting is so poor, that even the usher didn't know where our seats were, and she admitted this to us. But between the three of us, we found our seats, and from there, we were fine.

I went to get food, and you can find just about everything there, from sandwiches, burgers, to pizza. The price is pretty steep--three slices of pizza, one water and one soda cost me $28--but the pizza was actually pretty good.

As was the game. With the place pretty much sold out, the Nets beat the dreadful Charlotte Bobcats 105-96. The Nets were actually outplayed by the horrible, but tenacious, Bobcats team for about 99 percent of the game, but talent finally won out, and the Nets pulled away in the last minute or so.

As a Knicks fan, I was kind of rooting for the Bobcats, but my old Net pride showed. In the rafters of the building were the championship pennants from those years in the ABA when the Nets were one of the dominant teams in that fledgling league.

Also, there were the retired numbers of such great players as Julius Erving and "Super John" Williamson. I used to go to Nassau Coliseum all the time in the 1970s to see this team play, and it brought back lots of memories.

I had not seen the Nets play a home game since the final game of the history of the ABA in 1976, when the Nets won that league's final championship before being absorbed into the NBA, so it was pretty much a thrill to see them again 37 years later, and put up a win. As I said, I was kind of rooting for the Bobcats, but looking back, not really.

I guess I did want the Nets to win.

As the game ended, people slowly filed out of the arena, and I found it interesting that the down escalators were actually working. It's been my experience that at the end of games in arenas like Madison Square Garden, you can use the escalators, but they are turned off for safety reasons, so it is more like using the stairs. Here, the escalators were on. Very curious indeed.

Anyway, we proceeded out to the street, and walked to the railroad station. Our train to Jamaica was waiting for us, and within minutes, we sped off.

The train in Jamaica wasn't waiting for us, and we had to wait about 15 minutes for our connection. Not great, but the weather was nice, so it wasn't that bad.

We got home at about 11:45, so everything went pretty smoothly, I must say.

The Barclays Center is truly a beautiful arena. It has everything a fan would want from an arena, including good sight lines and other amenities.

No, I don't think I would sit so far up again, but all in all, I really liked the place.

As an alternative to going to Madison Square Garden, that is just what it is.

There is nothing like seeing an event in the Garden, but we will visit Brooklyn again next season.

You can count on that.

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