City pitches Barclays as potential venue for 2016 political bash

Budget tix cut at Barclays
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Brooklyn is in the running to be the host of the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

The mayor’s office is pitching the Barclays Center as a possible venue for the Democrats’ quadrennial presidential-candidate nominating ritual. The obvious best choice to host the event appears alongside Manhattan’s played-out Jacob Javits Convention Center and Madison Square Garden in a letter from a deputy of Mayor DeBlaiso outlining the virtues of New York to the liberal party’s lead event planner, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“The new Barclays Center, in the heart of Brooklyn, is a multi-purpose venue that can accommodate audiences of up to 18,000,” wrote Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic development, in a March 1 letter to the committee first obtained by the New York Daily News.

The missive lumps the Prospect Heights arena in with its aging counterparts in Manhattan in the description that follows.

“Each of these state-of-the-art venues is well-equipped to host the Democratic National Convention Committee’s operations,” the letter says. “Each is also located close to the transit hubs, hotels, restaurants, theaters, and attractions that inspire more than 54 million people to visit New York City every year.”

The convention would be Brooklyn’s first presidential nominating bash and, drawing tens of thousands of politicos, would be even larger and substantially longer than last year’s MTV Video Music Awards.

A major political convention could be a boon to borough hotels, bars, and restaurants, but would also bring with it a massive security apparatus and possibly major protests.

In its letter, the mayor’s office brushed aside worries about terrorism, calling New York “America’s safest big city.”

Republicans held their convention in Manhattan in 2004, drawing legions of delegates and hundreds of thousands of protesters who, along with the massive police presence deployed to corral them, snarled traffic for five days before, during, and after the convention.

Some of those demonstrators wound up in a makeshift waterfront jail that came to be known in activist circles as “Guantanamo on the Hudson” and the city has paid or is in the process of paying more than $19 million for the illegal arrests of 1,800.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Looks enticing, no?: Brooklyn's meeting hall in the daytime.
Photo by Paul Martinka