NEW YORK (AP) — Nets fans found traveling to Barclays Center a bit easier Saturday after the Metropolitan Transit Authority opened up several subway lines from lower Manhattan into Brooklyn for the first time since Superstorm Sandy.
The city postponed Thursday night's opener against the New York Knicks because much of the mass-transit system was still not operating. By Friday afternoon, the Nets already had a plan in place to get fans from Manhattan to Brooklyn for Saturday night's home opener against the Toronto Raptors.
But having the subways was a huge boost, though not all of the nine lines that stop at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center complex are back. Escalators at the station were still shut down and remaining water damage was evident, but there was a large crowd of fans waiting in the plaza when the doors opened.
Mike Kingsbaker spent the day volunteering at a shelter in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn before heading out to the game and did not have a problem with basketball being played in the city. The trip to the arena took him about five minutes.
"There's a lot of people that need a lot of help. Hopefully, they're going to do something tonight to kind of help some people out. I know Staten Island and the Rockaways (need help)," the 32-year-old from Brooklyn said. "I was kind of bummed to see that Knicks-Nets game not happen just because that just could have been a really unifying New York-type experience. Then the next night the Knicks-Heat game is going on."
Fellow Brooklynite Jon Haz, 18, had to take a taxi to the arena because there were no trains available in his area.
Haz felt it was not right to have a basketball game while others were still struggling in the aftermath of the storm.
"I think it's wrong but a lot of people say it brings a lot of people's spirits in the city. I guess it's a good thing," he said.
Will Guerra, 25, of Queens, is a season ticket holder who was looking forward to the first game against the Knicks. Guerra and a friend drove to the arena after getting up before dawn on a scavenger hunt for gas, which many stations have been unable to provide because they have either sold out or have not had power at their stations.
"It wasn't that bad. We filled up last night at 4 in the morning. We got lucky, though. We were hunting," Guerra said.
Juan Puerto arrived Friday night from Spain.
He was disappointed with the cancellation of Sunday's New York City Marathon. He thought since basketball was being played, the city could have held the marathon. He and a friend drove 30 minutes without encountering much traffic.
In previous years, the 54-year-old had run the Sahara Marathon and the Mont-Blanc Marathon.
His first New York City Marathon will have to know wait.
"It wasn't the right decision," Puerto said. "Tomorrow's the marathon. In all honesty, I feel very tricked. They could have warned us. I got here yesterday and they told us yesterday. I think they should have confirmed the event a lot sooner."