Circus coming to town! Ratner, Ringling ink deal at Barclays Center

Circus coming to town! Ratner, Ringling ink deal at Barclays Center
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The development of Atlantic Yards has been sometimes compared to a three-ring circus — but now the real thing is coming to Prospect Heights.

The producers of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced on Friday that they had inked a deal to bring one of their productions to the under-construction Barclays Center in March, 2013, about six months after the arena is slated to open near the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

A spokesman for Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner said that the Ringling Bros. show would be the same “Greatest Show on Earth” mega-production that fills Madison Square Garden, a rival arena, though a spokesman for the circus was not 100 percent sure.

“We have three circuses on tour at the same time and they all have nine to 10 elephants,” said spokeswoman Nicole Quenqua of Feld Entertainment. “It’s not necessarily the same show as MSG.”

That said, Quenqua said the Barclays version would definitely be bigger than the popular one-ring tent show that has prospered for two summers in Coney Island.

And Feld doesn’t only trot out clowns and elephants. The company produces 48 other family friendly shows that will also fill the Barclays Center upon completion, including Disney on Ice, freestyle motorbike racing events such as AMA Arenacross and Nuclear Cowboyz, and the stupendously thrilltastic monster truck demolition event, Monster Jam, which is guaranteed to be the best night of your 8-year-old boy’s life.

But in a statement, Ratner focused on the circus.

“I can’t wait to see circus elephants marching down Flatbush Avenue and into the Barclays Center, where they will entertain ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages,” the developer said. “We look forward to the Barclays Center creating memories that will last a lifetime.” (For the record, Quenqua would not confirm whether the elephants would in fact be marching down Flatbush Avenue.)

Ratner and a veritable circus of public officials broke ground at the basketball arena in March, and since then Forest City has inked deals that will bring 12 big time boxing matches, two professional tennis events, and 25 college basketball and hockey events per year that will likely make the arena a beehive of activity even when the prime tenant, the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets are out of town.

Forest City is still negotiating with major concert promoters, such as Live Nation, to bring the biggest musical acts in the world to Brooklyn — one of Ratner’s core promises when he was allowed to develop the Vanderbilt Yards into an entertainment center.

Construction began in earnest late last month.

Longtime Atlantic Yards foe Councilwoman Tish James (D–Prospect Heights) was unimpressed by the circus announcement, saying that it would only bring “more clowns to the Atlantic Yards-Barclays Center debacle.”

That said, she hopes her constituents will benefit from it.

“I hope they discount tickets for low-income children in Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, and Bedford-Stuyvesant,” said James.

Something like this is coming to the Barclays Center.
Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier