Printer Friendly Format
  January 25, 2004

A Slam Dunk for Brooklyn and All New York
By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

It’s been more than 46 years since the Dodgers, Brooklyn’s last major league sports team, played their final game at Ebbets Field. That sad silence is about to end and be replaced with the thunderous cheers of basketball fans of all ages. On Friday, I joined the new owner of the Nets, Bruce Ratner, in announcing that the team would be moving to a fantastic new arena – designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry – in Downtown Brooklyn.

The team is expected to come to Brooklyn in 2007, 50 years after Walter O’Malley took the beloved Bums to the West Coast. “It just isn’t a major league town,” O’Malley said. The people of Brooklyn didn’t believe him then. They sure don’t believe him now, and neither do I. There’s no question Brooklyn is in the major leagues. Taken by itself, the borough would have the fourth largest population of any city in the country. Brooklyn also has some of the best sports fans in the world. Just look at all the people who come out to cheer the Brooklyn Cyclones at Keyspan Park in Coney Island. What’s more, Brooklyn is a veritable hotbed of hoops, boasting home-grown stars like Bernard King, Chris Mullin and Steff-on Marbury.

But the relocation of the Nets is about more than basketball. It’s about jobs and opportunity, and the start of a sweeping economic development project that will cap the remarkable resurgence of Downtown Brooklyn. The development of the Atlantic Yards will include the basketball arena, retail stores and office space. It will generate an estimated $400 million a year in economic activity. 4,000 units of much-needed housing will also be constructed onsite, including a substantial number of affordable units. This will allow the development to reflect the diversity of Downtown Brooklyn and attract new residents to the neighborhood.

This historic project will create 10,000 jobs during construction, and thousands of permanent new jobs in Brooklyn when it’s completed. That’s great news. Unemployment in our city is down substantially from a year ago, but it’s still too high. We’ve got to do even more to attract new jobs, and we will. More than two million square feet of office space will be built as part of the project, providing room for companies looking to move here, or grow here, and hire New Yorkers.

Our administration has an ambitious redevelopment plan for all of Downtown Brooklyn, and we’re making it a reality. The Atlantic Yards project, featuring a stunning new arena for pro basketball, will go a long way toward making Downtown Brooklyn into even more of a place that can’t be beat in the competition for residents, businesses and jobs. Brooklyn’s future, like that of all five boroughs, is no longer a jump ball. Our City’s economy has turned the corner, and our best days – our brightest days – are just ahead. See you at the game.