Brett Yormark is billing Barclays Center as the world's first billion dollar arena, but he'll probably get an argument from Madison Square Garden, whose renovation, which begins in earnest Monday, could cost as much as $977 million. While the Nets and Knicks have been scrapping over superstars like Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams, the team's owners have been competing over arena plans.
Barclays Center is slightly ahead of schedule at Flatbush and Atlantic and should open in September 2012. Meanwhile, its counterpart at 8th and 33rd will be rolling out improvements piecemeal starting in October of this year. Overall, the project will take three years. The Garden's distinctive circular bowl will be modified to fit new amenities, mostly for high end clients.
The most unique feature: two 200' x 25' skybridges (with concession stands) suspended high above the action...and from the Garden's iconic dropped ceiling.
Quietly, Barclays Center officials argue the MSG move was driven by new competition for sports and entertainment dollars, but the 42-year-old Garden was in need of an overhaul. And the competition has turned nasty. MSG lured away the general manager of Barclay Center and gave him added responsibilities in Manhattan. Expect a lot more of the same. The Battle of the Billboards was only the beginning.