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Call it Zen and the art of basketball.
The Brooklyn Paper has learned that the Barclays Center will be the first sports arena to feature a meditation chamber — an intriguing element that is one of the few unreported details of the widely covered home of the future Brooklyn Nets.
The concept was envisioned by the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, the fiery pastor of the House of the Lord Pentecostal Church on Atlantic Avenue, who has played a behind-the-scenes role to acquire various “community benefits” from developer Bruce Ratner.
This meditation room appears to be one of them.
“The idea is to say to people there are values in reflection, contemplation,” explained Daughtry, who gave the convocation at the groundbreaking ceremony for the arena last month.
“Whenever you’re in the arena, you can go to meditate.”
Daughtry added that the “meditation room” was a watered-down version of what he initially wanted in the arena: a chapel.
“I got plastered for that,” he said. “You can’t use public funds for religious purposes.”
A spokeswoman for Ellerbe Beckett, the arena’s architecture firm, was able confirm that a meditation room was in the blueprints — and that it is likely unprecedented.
“To our knowledge, the meditation room at Barclays Center will be the first meditation room to be included in a new NBA arena,” said the spokeswoman, Sara Cziok.
One close follower of the sports industry was initially taken aback by the spirit-soothing revelation.
“It seems so odd,” said Robert Boland, a professor of sports management at New York University. “It’s like, ‘I’m going to put a scuba diving tank in my arena, too.’ ”
Upon reflection, however, Boland noted that the room could serve many different purposes.
“Increasing the potential use of an arena is smart,” Boland said. “I can see this space being a place for a Sunday morning mega-church. It could open the door to that community.”
He added that the room could potentially be a revenue generator if it could accommodate a large congregation.
And that’s a big deal at the Barclays Center, where the main tenant only needs the space for 41 games (and possibly a few more if your prayers are answered and the team makes the playoffs).
“This arena is going to have an issue over what its second, third and fourth tenants are going to be,” Boland explained. “A mega-church could be a potential renter of the facility — there isn’t a lot of basketball played on Sunday mornings.”
Sports and prayer have been linked as long as there has been athletic competition, but a recent USAToday story noted a “faith surge” in professional sports. But that trend is mostly limited to players. A meditation room could bring prayer to the people in the cheap seats, too.
For now, all observers can do is speculate. A spokesman for Forest City Ratner would not reveal the design of the room, or whether it would be open during hours when the arena is not hosting an event after it opens, slated for the 2012-13 basketball season.
Of course, there is at least one likely benefit to the room: it could serve as a sanctum for spiritually devastated fans and basketball players if the Nets continue their role as the whipping boy of the NBA.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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