Tonight, at around 8:15, Eastern Time, the lights will turn on in Brooklyn, and they will all be shining on the King of New York, Jay-Z, who will be showcasing his new castle.
The legendary rapper will officially open the Barclays Center, with the first of eight consecutive concerts being held at the arena he helped build.
I'm sure it will be an exciting moment for Jay, who grew up in Marcy Houses, a housing project that's literally blocks away from the arena. It will also be an exciting moment for the city, which will have a new shiny toy to play with and show off.
And it will be trouble for Barclays Center’s cross-town rival, Madison Square Garden, which is dark tonight and for the next couple of months, until November when the Knicks and Rangers (Godspeed NHL fans) start their seasons. Yes, MSG is really quiet nowadays, with the only noteworthy news being whether a washed-up, 38-year-old Rasheed Wallace will sign with the Knicks.
Times are changing, folks, and with the opening of the Barclays Center we might be seeing the beginning of a new reign, or at the very least, a Sugar Ray Leonard/Tommy Hearns type of rivalry.
Like KRS-One famously said on “The Bridge is Over,” "Manhattan keeps on makin’ it, Brooklyn keeps on takin’ it."
Barclays and Brooklyn already have the fall and winter on lock. Not only are they bringing an exciting new basketball team, the Brooklyn Nets, but there is already a lineup of A-list performers getting ready to hit the stage: Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Bob Dylan, Green Day, John Legend, Rihanna and Rush all have shows coming up.
If you look at the Garden’s upcoming schedule, things looks pretty soft — with no heavy acts coming until Madonna in November. (They too have shows from The Biebs, The Who and The Gaga coming up, but much later, though.)
The best part of all of this is that we benefit. You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to realize that competition is a good thing for the consumer. An example of this is already being shown. According to a new article from the NY Times, ticket prices, in most instances, are lower at the Barclays Center than they are at The Garden:
"Several promoters said a band stands to earn between $150,000 and $250,000 more for a sold-out show at Barclays than for one at the Garden. For concertgoers that means ticket prices for some shows will be lower at Barclays as well: Neil Young fans can buy a seat for $58 at Barclays, versus $63 at the Garden, according to Ticketmaster. Yet tickets to other big shows — the Who and Justin Bieber for instance — are roughly the same price at both places.”
Another interesting aspect that the article brings up is that Madison Square Garden has a history of being a pain in the ass when it came to booking acts, something that is likely to stop now that Barclays is in the running.
The NY Times talked to Randy Phillips, the chief executive of AEG Live, one of the top promotional companies, and he said:
“I consider it a godsend Barclays arena is there…Prior to this we were really kind of held hostage on a tour to the availability of Madison Square Garden…Now we have a building where we can play and actually make money and the press will come. That’s big for us. That’s going to make the Garden more honest.”
Probably the greatest asset that Barclays has going for it is Jay-Z himself.
Even though he only owns a small take in everything, the Barclays Center is basically going to be his second home, with the 40/40 Club and the Rockawear store having prime real estate at the Center.
Jay-Z, Jay-Z's wife and all of Jay-Z's friends, like a Rihanna, will be choosing to perform at the Barclays Center's comfy stage, rather than MSG.
Barclays Center is making a lot of moves — what are you going to do now, MSG?
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