By Raanan Geberer
Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted that he is considering another bid for the summer Olympics in 2024, and that former Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, who engineered the city’s unsuccessful attempt for 2012, is putting together a plan.
The governor, according to news reports, said he has spoken to Mayor Bill de Blasio about it, but the mayor was somewhat lukewarm about the idea. “We have not had serious internal discussions about it,” de Blasio said at a press conference. “I think we can safely say that the history of the Olympics, in a variety of cities around the world, has been a mixed bag.”
Even if de Blasio, a Brooklynite, gets on board, however, he’ll have plenty of competition. The top contenders are said to be Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia and Boston.
There’s no telling whether a New York City plan for 2024 will be similar to the 2012 plan. But, interestingly for Brooklynites, the 2012 proposal included two Brooklyn venues: Barclays Center, for basketball and gymnastics, and a “Williamsburg Waterfront Center” for beach volleyball and aquatics.
If the city’s new bid for the summer Olympics is seriously considered, Brooklyn may make the difference.
In 2004, when Doctoroff and his staff put together the 2012 bid, Barclays Center was still just a concept. Developer Bruce Ratner’s plan for an arena for the Nets had just been announced. Active opposition was taking shape in the neighborhoods surrounding Ratner’s intended site, and many people predicted that it would never be built. The planned stadium didn’t even have a name yet—it was just called “the arena,” or less politely, “Ratner’s folly.”
Today, Barclays Center is a reality, featuring Nets basketball games, collegiate basketball, concerts by major rock groups and more. By 2024, the Islanders will also call Barclays home.
Thus, Barclays will be able to host not only basketball but also hockey, as well as gymnastics and a variety of other events. The combination of two major indoor sports arenas—Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center—could be just enough to swing the Olympic Committee in New York City’s favor.
As far as an aquatic center on the Williamsburg waterfront is concerned, it could still become a reality, but the attraction of Barclays Center would far outweigh it. Incidentally, the rezoning of the Greenpoint and Williamsburg waterfront, which led to the construction of many tall residential buildings, was proposed with the expected use of the area as an Olympic venue in mind.
True, the idea of New York City for the 2024 summer Olympics has its critics. Daily News columnist Linda Stasi has written a column on the subject called “Cuomo Goes for the Gold in Stupid.” Among other things, she brings up the huge amount of money a New York City Olympics would cost.
“Just because we already have approximately 53 million tourists a year who just annoy the crap out of the rest of us, and just because we have nearly full hotel occupancy, doesn’t mean we don’t want millions more tourists clogging our streets,” says Stasi, who is obviously a model of sensitivity and decorum.
But if New York City’s Olympics plan makes it to the shortlist, the one-two punch of Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center could make the difference. This time, Brooklyn’s ready!