If You Build It, They Will Come: Barclays Center Opens Its Doors
After 55 years, professional sports are back in Brooklyn.
On Friday Sept. 21, Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman/CEO Bruce Ratner joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Barclays Center/Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark, and other dignitaries in officially unveiling Brooklyn’s newest landmark, Barclays Center.
“With Barclays Center, the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues has become one of the greatest crossroads in New York,” said Ratner, on hand to cut the ribbon and mark the ceremonial opening of the Nets’ new home. “Barclays Center is quickly becoming a destination for some of our most creative artists and athletes, as well as a cultural destination for families throughout the city and visitors from all corners of the globe.”
Street to Seat
The 675,000-square-ft. sports and entertainment venue, wrapped in weathered steel that reflects changes in weather and daylight, can be accessed via 11 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road. Emerging from the new state-of-the-art Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center subway stop, fans are greeted by one of the venue’s many defining features: the oculus. Manufactured by Daktronics, the oculus houses a 3,000-square-ft., 360-degree LED marquee.
Fans enter the facility through the 9,000-square-ft. glass-enclosed GEICO Atrium, which offers a glimpse of the players’ practice court and an immediate, dramatic view of the arena bowl and video board.
Barclays Center can seat approximately 18,000 for basketball and accommodate nearly 20,000 for concerts. The venue comprises 101 luxury suites, including Brownstone, Loft, and Vault suites, four party suites, and two conference suites.
Three Stories of Video
The center-hung scoreboard, clearly visible from the main doors, is one of the five largest arena scoreboards in the world. A whopping three stories tall, the Daktronics HD display features 3,550 total square ft. of LED, including four main 16-mm LED video screens, measuring 16 by 32 ft. The upper and lower rings, as well as the upper panel, feature 10-mm LED displays.
An HD-video–control room, located high above the floor, was built in conjunction with Sony and integrated by Diversified Systems. Three in-house cameras, including a main follow and reverse-follow, will feed content to the video board.
One Brain, Many Displays
Barclays Center contains 700 Sony HDTVs and approximately 100 concession menu boards powered by Cisco’s StadiumVision digital video- and content-distribution platform. StadiumVision controls and delivers targeted HD video and digital content from a central location to displays throughout the venue.
In addition to game action, StadiumVision will feed concession specials (integrated with point-of-sale), out-of-town scores, traffic updates, and more.
Two Cisco Nexus switches serve as the brains of the network, pushing 60 channels of Time Warner Cable and 12 channels of DIRECTV to targeted displays on a single converged network that also accommodates ticketing, sound, and security.
“Everything flows through the brains of the network,” explains Chip Foley, director of building technology, Forest City Ratner, who led a tour of the facility. “Why do we do that? Because it’s simple, it’s scalable, and, this way, I don’t have 20 other networks running in the building. It’s managed from one central location, [and] we basically set up virtual connections to all the other networks.”
Foley plans to feed the uncompressed truck signal directly into the owners’ suite, as well as to the Vault suites, for a better-than-HD viewing experience. Looking to the future, particularly 4K, he believes that the venue will be able to scale to accommodate the new technology.
“Can the backend facilities infrastructure support it? The answer is yes,” he says. “I wired the building for as much fiber and SMPTE cabling as possible. … I also have triax for the legacy systems.”
Cisco Keeps Fans Connected
When the idea of Barclays Center began to take shape in 2003, the iPhone was still four years away. Three years ago, as the facility grew, iPads did not exist. Forest City Ratner has had to determine how best to deal with an ever-changing technological landscape. A plan that began with installing televisions in the back of every seat was scratched in favor of one supporting the screens most visitors would carry in their pockets.
Cisco’s Connected Stadium WiFi will ensure that, from street to seat, visitors can update social networks, check e-mail, and access Barclays Center’s custom app. The highly scalable, high-density network comprises 275 access points and is available free to visitors.
“I toured a lot of venues, I talked to all the CIOs and technology directors, [and I asked,] what are your biggest challenges?” says Foley. “[They said] it always comes down to wireless: the broadcast guys are eating the wireless; we don’t have enough capacity, enough bandwidth. I tried to ensure that we have a system that has enough infrastructure so I can always add more and that we bring in enough bandwidth to support everybody.”
Barclays Center’s official mobile app will provide key arena information, including event details, transportation information, and a guide to Brooklyn. Plans are in the works to include real-time video streams and the ability for fans to order concessions through the app and pick them up without waiting in line. Video streaming and concession ordering will be available only to fans accessing the app via the Barclays Center WiFi.
Fans will be able to attend events at Barclays Center with smartphones, tablets, and laptops. In addition, an iPad will be mounted on the wall in every suite.
“I wanted to make sure I can do free public WiFi for everybody,” says Foley. “A lot of venues aren’t doing that nowadays, but people come into [Barclays Center], they get connected. I want them on Facebook, I want them tweeting about the game. I want as much exposure to the game as possible.”
Barclays Center has also installed a neutral host Distributed Antenna System, which was implemented by ExteNet Systems.
An Arena Opens in Brooklyn
Barclays Center will officially open on Sept. 28 with the first of eight sold-out concerts by Jay-Z, a part owner of the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are scheduled to play their first regular-season game on Nov. 1 against the New York Knicks. Although the venue has not been promised a hockey tenant, the Barclays Center has been installed with ice beneath the floor.
“Barclays Center is ready to deliver the most spectacular sports and entertainment venue to Brooklyn,” says Yormark. “This arena is prepared to offer the finest programming, customer service, culinary experience, and technology, as well as easy accessibility to the building. Barclays Center will exceed Brooklyn’s expectations and serve as an inspiration to the borough for years to come.”