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Breaking Down The Barclays Center

by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 5, 2012

Nuggets from my notebook from a walk through the brand new Barclays Center.

  • If I had to describe the Barclays Center, I’d say it’s state of the art, yet strangely simplistic.
  • I didn’t take pictures because it’s a brand new building and I’m sure a Google search would net you anything you want to see from the areas I’ll describe below.
  • The design is cool. Definitely different. The exterior is not what you typically see from an NBA arena. And that gives it character.
  • At the front of the main entrance is an oculus, which is the focal point of the exterior. It’s a unique aesthetic feature that makes the building ultra distinctive.
  • Once inside the arena you immediately sense the simplicity of the concourse. It’s inviting upon entering but suffers a severe drop off as you make your way through the concourse. Endless black and gray floors and walls make the arena feel dreary. The main concourse is not well lit, more than likely purposefully as an attempt to stick to the theater lighting concept. But it just doesn’t work, not for my taste anyway.
  • There’s also little to no activities for fans throughout the concourse. The main concourse is just concessions and shopping. There’s a team shop and a Rocawear store, which is the clothing company Nets part owner Jay-Z started as an offshoot of his Rocafella Records label. Options seemed to be limited to eating, drinking, buying merchandise or going to your seat.
  • The concessions were mostly standard. Hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, pretzels and the likes. I did notice that there was more gourmet options, however. Sushi, for example, was available at one portable stand, while red velvet cake and, of course, cheesecake was offered at another.
  • One cool aspect of the concession stands was the local flavor that was added. Most of the names of the concessions were themed if they weren’t a chain like Nathan’s. For example, you could get refreshments from the Bed Stuy Grill or the Fort Greene Grill, or get grub at Brooklyn Burgers. That theme was carried throughout the main concourse.
  • The coolest feature on the main concourse is undoubtedly the standing room only section, which is just beyond the main entrance and overlooks the court from an end zone. It’s a similar set up to the SRO platforms at Cowboys Stadium and other venues. Unfortunately for fans, when I walked by there was a rope keeping everyone back about 20 feet from where the seats started. There looked to be some sort of broadcast table beyond the rope. Not sure if the rope was removed at any point during the evening, but if it wasn’t it blocked viewers’ ability to see most of the arena and court.
  • Tattoo artists from the show Ink Master on Spike were on the main concourse offering free tattoos. It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen at a NBA arena. I don’t have anything against tattoos. I just couldn’t help but think how that sort of thing probably never would be condoned in Oklahoma City.
  • One other thing I noticed was that with most Nets fans wearing black, white and gray, I stood out like a pink Hummer since I wore an orange sweater Tuesday night.
  • Above the main concourse is three levels: Suite Level A, Suite Level B and the upper concourse. As you would expect, the middle two sections are where things get luxurious.
  • Suite Level A is home to the 40/40 Club, the third active location of the sports bar chain owned by Jay-Z. This 40/40 Club is a plush restaurant and bar area, designed to allow high-rollers to kick back and enjoy some drinks and gourmet, buffet-style grub before and even during the game. One menu item included barbeque chicken sliders.
  • Just off the 40/40 Club are some very nice loge seats. Again, probably high-dollar stuff. But there you can have a loge box for up to, I think, four people and enjoy the game with a more spacious seat. You also can have dinner — not just a hot dog — in the loge while you’re watching the game, which is fantastic. This loge seating is just above and slightly over the standing room only section on the main concourse and extends from one corner of the arena to the end of one of the end zones.
  • The rest of Suite Level A is, well, suites. Your standard luxury for the most part. Nothing fancy inside the suites that I noticed, and I did walk into an empty one. Not sure how many suites at various arenas have full-sized refrigerators, though.
  • Suite Level B was more of the same as Suite Level A, only with fewer bars and no club. I did notice the open concept up at Suite Level B, from which you can both look down at Suite Level A patrons and see fans riding the escalator up to the upper concourse.
  • The upper concourse was basic, similar to the  main concourse but without the team shop and Rocawear store. A quick stroll to the seating area, however, made it clear that the sight lines are pretty good even up in the cheap seats. That’s always a nice feature. I didn’t sit in any seats up there, so I can’t offer any insight into how comfortable or convenient the seats are.
  • It’s worth mentioning that the arena itself is sort of designed like San Antonio’s. It’s spacious and almost square-shaped. The black seats make the two arenas look even more similar. The only difference is the theater lighting inside the Barclays Center.
  • There was one more area that might interest some. It was a courtside club, which was called the Calvin Klein Club. It essentially was another plush, buffet-style lounge that allowed ballers and shot-callers to kick back before the game. Down there, a glass exterior to the club’s exit allowed fans to see the Nets as they came out before the game, which is always cool if you can afford it.
  • Something I’ve never seen or heard of before was located back by the loading dock. It was a huge circular platform where the team buses and other vehicles park when loading and unloading. Next to it is a super long service elevator that the vehicles ride up to get to the event level. At that point, the vehicles drive out of the elevator and park on this platform. Because the area is so compressed, the platform was designed to rotate 360 degrees so buses that can’t turn around are automatically spun around. It blew my mind when I heard that. It’s the kind of feature that makes the Barclays Center state of the art. But the bells and whistles just seem to be lacking for fans.
  • That’s it. I hope these nuggets were helpful for anyone planning a trip to New York someday and perhaps looking to take in a game at the Barclays Center. The area is super safe. There’s not many restaurants around the arena. A Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee’s are in the shopping center across the street. But other than that, and a few local hole in the walls, it’s slim pickings. The train system runs directly to the arena, so you can get there easily from practically anywhere in the city. All in all, it’s a very nice trip and one I’d recommend to any fan who can swing it.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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