Monday, November 28, 2005

Slam Dunk not Jump Ball

In yesterday’s Daily News, Michael O’Keefe examines the effort by FCRC to galvanize grassroots support for AY within Brooklyn’s amateur athletic community. The article does a good job of highlighting the depth of support that does exist for the project in the borough’s sports section. O’Keefe cites the Alliance’s Richard Lipsky, who is working on behalf of the developer,
One of the things that strikes me the most is the inherent, unstimulated enthusiasm for the project in Brooklyn.
What is curious, however, is the complaints of critics who claim that “Brooklyn’s hoops community better get something on paper before it’s too late.” It seems that Bruce Ratner can’t win either way. When goes out and invests in a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) he gets accused of buying off the community. On the other hand, when he reaches out to the amateur athletic community in an attempt at development a common agenda (without writing a six figure check) he gets accused of giving “needy” people false hopes.

All of this is captured in the article by our favorite sour grapes spokesman Vernon Jones (Jones had his own hand out but was rebuffed early on) who opines,
Why would Ratner care about the community after this is built?" he asks. "When this is done, Richard Lipsky will move on to his next job. Who will be accountable?
Jones’ comments are way off base. First, the FCRC has a long record of community involvement and Atlantic yards will be a development that will continue in this tradition. Second, the Nets will be coming to Brooklyn and anyone who understands sports marketing knows that for a franchise to be successful it needs to develop an attachment, a fan base in its marketing area. This leads, potentially, to a mutually beneficial partnership between the Brooklyn Nets and the borough where the team will play.

What makes the Nets situation unique, however, is the existing depth of support for the sport of basketball and the commitment of FCRC to youth development. The goal here is to have the team act as a catalyst for the use of sports as a means to an end – academic achievement, career advancement good citizenship – rather than simply and end in itself.