After years of false starts, economic malaise, local protests, lawsuits and atrocious basketball, New Jersey Nets officials finally unveiled some positive team news on Monday: The Barclays Center will be open on Sept. 28, 2012.
The grand opening of the $1-billion arena now under construction at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues will launch three weeks of concerts and events, according to Brett Yormark, the Nets chief executive officer, who led nattily attired team executives, the media, and Nets power forward Kris Humphries through the mud for a tour of the work site.
“It’s all coming together,” he said.
The grand opening will be preceded by public events and tours to introduce Brooklyn to the arena before the Nets 2012-13 season begins.
“The community will sample it first,” Yormark said, adding that construction is proceeding on schedule, with about 70 percent of the foundation done and 30 percent of the steel in place.
The building’s façade, designed by SHoP Architects, will be put in place beginning in July, and the roof would be set down the end of the year, added Linda Chiarelli, the deputy director of construction at Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of the Atlantic Yards mega-project, which includes the new Nets home.
Nets tickets went on sale last week, another tangible sign that the arena will be a reality.
That’s good news for players, who said they are eager to win the borough’s loyalty.
“We want to have the best home court advantage in the league,” Humphries said before spinning a basketball on his index finger on the rubble-strewn spot that will one day be center court. “We are expecting to sell out form Day One.”
Humphries, a Minnesota native, said he’s yet to really hang out in Brooklyn, but plans to “explore it a little bit.”
Still, he offered a bit of advice to critics worried about traffic snarls once the arena opens.
“Just come to the game and you’ll be a part of the excitement,” he said. “You don’t want to be walking down the street and see everyone coming from the game — you want to come to the game and hopefully be a part of a great victory and a lot of excitement.”
Brook Lopez, the Nets superstar center, was scheduled to join Humphries for the tour, but did not show. Barry Baum, a team spokesman, said the big man “was delayed.”
Workers predicted that the arena would blow Brooklyn away.
”Its an absolute gem,” said Paul Wilson, general superintendent with Hunt Construction Group, which is performing the work. “It’s a gorgeous building.”
But building in a dense urban environment has been a challenge — particularly maneuvering the massive equipment to the site. “It’s tight along Flatbush Avenue,” he observed.