Please note our new postal address when sending
contributions to the legal fund:
121 5th Avenue, PMB #150
Brooklyn, New York 11217
Our coalition consists of 21 community organizations and
there are 51 community organizations formally
aligned in opposition to the Ratner plan.
DDDB is a volunteer-run organization. We have over 5,000
subscribers to our email newsletter, and 7,000 petition
signers. Over 800 volunteers have registered with DDDB
to form our various teams, task-forces and committees
and we have over 150 block captains. We have a 20 person
volunteer legal team of local lawyers supplementing our
We are funded entirely by individual donations from the community at large
and through various fundraising events we and supporters have organized.
We have the financial support of well over 3,500 individual
NY State Never Sought Piece of Barclays Center Naming Rights Action
Ratner's frivolous $950 million arena would supposedly be "privately owned" (it
would be leased to Ratner for $1), yet the $400 million naming rights deal with
Barclays bank (is
it still $400 million?) is solely with the developer. The public gets nothing
out of the lucrative naming rights deal on the arena it supposedly owns.
Norman Oder did some FOIA searching to find out if NY State ever wisely tried
to get any value out of the naming rights deal. What he found was that New York
State was not wise. The state sure could have used that money.
From Oder on his Atlantic Yards Report:
the state try to gain any value from arena naming rights? Apparently not
reading to find out what former Atlantic Yards head honcho Jim Stuckey was
worried about (hint, he was worried about being "punished" for the naming rights
deal by the state by losing public subsidies.)
Yesterday, Gov. David Paterson proposed
$5.2 billion in budget cuts over the next 16½ months, with reductions
in school aid, increased tuition at city and state universities, and reduced Medicaid
reimbursements, among other things.
Perhaps administration officials--many of whom were not in charge at the time,
actually--are wondering why exactly their predecessors allowed Forest City Ratner
to claim the entire value of naming rights for the Barclays Center arena.
In response to a Freedom of Information Law request, documents received from the
Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) indicated that no effort was made
to retain any such value, though at one point, a Forest City Ratner executive
indicated anxiety about the developer being "punished" for the naming rights deal.
Why it matters
The arena would be publicly owned, formally at least, and leased to FCR for $1
a year. The main reason for the fig leaf of public ownership is to allow the issuance
of tax-exempt bonds.
Still, it's not the developer's property, As author Neil deMause told
me earlier this year, "There’s no reason for this [naming rights] to
be private money."
But allowing the team owner to retain naming rights was apparently an unspoken
component of the Atlantic Yards agreement. As Andrew Alper, then-president of
the New York City Economic Development Corporation, told
City Council 5/4/04:
So, they came to us, we did not come to them.
And it is not really up to us then to go out and try to find a better deal.
(Note that the $400 million deal apparently must
be renewed by the end of the month, and renewal--at least at that level--is
In September, I contacted the ESDC, asking:
Under the Freedom of Information Law, I request
records regarding any discussion between the Empire State Development Corporation
and developer Forest City Ratner (or any of its affiliates) regarding naming rights
for the planned Atlantic Yards arena, now expected to be called the Barclays Center.
More specifically, I seek records that describe whether or not the ESDC attempted
to ensure that the public received some value for the naming rights. I also seek
records that explain the ESDC's rationale in allowing developer Forest City Ratner
(or any of its affiliates) to control the naming rights.
There were no real answer to the question about the ESDC's rationale.
In response, I got a six-page file (PDF)
of email messages, part of which consisted of a message I myself sent and the
ensuing ESDC response. Notably, none of the documents were dated before 2007,
meaning that the issue was not discussed before the ESDC board approved
the project in December 2006.
I filed a similar request with the New York City Economic Development Corporation,
Alper's agency, which also participated in the initial Memorandum of Understanding
for the project. I was told there were "no responsive documents."
Though the documents are scant, in several places they were redacted; the ESDC
cited exemptions that allow agencies to deny access to records that are inter-agency
or intra-agency materials which are not final agency policy or determinations
and instructions to staff that that affect the public, among other things.
The six pages
The documents consist of the following:
Page 1. A 1/16/07 email from ESDC President Avi Schick asking staffers, "In the
KPMG analysis, what was the dollar amount assumed that Ratner would received for
the arena naming rights?"
(The answers are redacted, but the KPMG
report, released during litigation over the AY environmental review, assessed
"sponsorship/naming rights" at $31.2 million. The Barclays
Center deal announced 1/18/07 is said to be $20 million a year, but Forest
City Ratner has since announced numerous
other partnerships. KPMG did say that the $31.2 million figure may be on the
Page 2-4. A 1/22/07 email from me to then-spokeswoman Jessica Copen asking why,
if the arena is publicly owned, why the Local Development Corporation (LDC) wasn't
selling naming rights
Again, some internal messages were redacted; nor was Copen's
answer included in this file. Her answer did not exactly address the issue,
given the significant public support for the arena: "Financing for the stadium
comes ultimately from the team. The team has the naming rights. It's the same
deal as with the Mets - who also sold naming rights to their new stadium."