No arena yet — but Best Western Arena is open for business

No arena yet — but Best Western Arena is open for business
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The Barclays Center basketball arena isn’t even built, but one hotel is already cashing in on it.

But the lodge — the Best Western Arena Hotel — is a bit of a pump fake: Yes, like the arena, it’s on Atlantic Avenue. But this basketball boardinghouse is actually a mile-and-a-half down the pike — between Nostrand and New York avenues, specifically.

That’s not an easy jumpshot, or even a three-pointer. That’s a buzzer-beater from the baseline.

Still, the “Best Western Arena” is the first high-profile business to take such explicit advantage of the controversial project, which won’t be completed, at the earliest, until fall, 2012.

Owner Mukesh Patel said he couldn’t worry about such small details — he has to stake his claim now!

“Once it opens up, there will be a big jump of business,” said Patel, whose hotel is ringed by auto repair shops. “It won’t just have basketball games. There will be concerts, conventions — almost 365 days of activities!”

And Patel will certainly get plenty of bookings, given that most Americans find hotels by taking a three-second glance at a Google map rather than considering that eight avenue blocks in New York City can mean the difference between bunking down on the Gold Coast or in a, well, neighborhood of auto repair shops.

Patel expects that Atlantic Avenue — at least the stretch between the arena and New York Avenue — is in for a major facelift.

“It is definitely going to be a big change,” Patel said. “A lot of restaurants, retail stores, and condos will come to the area.”

Best Western has opened its “Arena Hotel” in Crown Heights — and it’s pretty far from the arena that is being built at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.
Community Newspaper Group / Stephen Brown

He may be right, but he’s definitely wrong about his repeated claim that his hotel is the closest to the arena site at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

There is the Comfort Inn on Butler Street at Third Avenue, only seven street blocks from the future arena site, and the Holiday Inn Express is at Union Street and Fourth Avenue — still a much shorter walk than the trip from the new Best Western.

Even in the new hotel’s neck of the woods in Crown Heights and Clinton Hill there is competition. The financially unstable Lefferts Hotel is actually a bit closer to the arena at Classon Avenue and Lefferts Place, and then there is the sketchy Pleasant Stay hotel a half-block away — but that one likely doesn’t cater to the typical arena-goer.

Indeed, the neighborhoods surrounding the Atlantic Yards site, especially in former industrial areas like the Gowanus and now, Atlantic Avenue in Crown Heights, are seeing a boom in hotels. Add the many hotels in Downtown, including the just-opened Sheraton on Duffield Street, and there may be a glut forming in a borough that once had barely any options for the grandparents when they come to watch Lebron James play at the Barclays Center (er, probably best to delete that now-obsolete joke. Oh well).

It’s not the first time, of course, that a business has tried to stick the word “arena” in its name in hopes of gaining untold riches through association with Bruce Ratner’s mega-project.

Three years ago, an entrepreneur opened a shop on Fifth Avenue, just three blocks from the stadium site, and called it “Arena Bagels.”

After protests from Atlantic Yards opponents — who claimed the bagel shop was giving legitimacy to a project that was still very much in doubt — the shop was rechristened “A.R.E.A. Bagels,” with periods to maintain the spacing of the store’s exterior signage.

No similar protests have occurred at Patel’s hotel — but then again, the arena is actually under construction now.