Rumor mill puts Babs on Barclays stage
By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Anyone who still thinks that Barclays Center is just about the Brooklyn Nets is in for a surprise.
Barbra Steisand is a heavily rumored opening-weeks act following the arena's debut with a Jay-Z concert on Friday, Sept. 28.
Barclays officials won't comment, but with posts by ESPN and entertainment blogs providing fuel, there's growing expectation of a rare Brooklyn engagement by the 70-year-old diva who left Flatbush to find fame and fortune on the left coast.
Brooklyn Nets spokesman Barry Baum told the Eagle: "I’m not going to comment on rumors."
Mark Zustovich, press secretary for Borough President Marty Markowitz, followed suit: "I’m not going to comment about the Barbra Streisand reports."
ESPN's NY Fight Blog columnist Michael Woods suggested several weeks ago that the opening night for boxing at Barclays, which he puts at Oct. 20, might have to duck between two of Streisand's haymakers: "I’m hearing that fight night will be sandwiched around two Barbra Streisand dates."
Though the inaugural fight's promoters are heralding an Oct. 20 date, the event did not appear on the Barclays Center's own events calendar as of May 4.
Baum, shoring up behind the stonewall when asked about the fight, responded simply, "We haven't announced anything yet."
Bensonhurst's own Paul Malignaggi, fresh off a WBA welterweight title victory over Vyacheslav Senchenko in Ukraine on April 29, was more loquacious. Malignaggi has been hyping his intention to host his first title defense at Barclays since before he had the title, and he told Woods that he now believes his hopes will bear out.
"That's the plan," he said. "We've been told that. It would be sweet."
Among Barclays Center's confirmed events are:
• Rush on Oct. 22
• Opera superstar Andrea Bocelli on Dec. 5
• Leonard Cohen on Dec. 20
• Disney on Ice, Nov. 27–Dec. 2 and Jan. 23–27
• Sounds of Reggae Concert, Dec. 9
• Barnum & Bailey Circus, spring 2013
Numerous non-Nets sporting events are also scheduled.
Tickets for Leonard Cohen will go on sale on Friday, May 18.
If Streisand performs at Barclays it will likely be her first time in the borough in many years. She’s apparently not much of a "good old neighborhood" type.
The official bio on her website makes no reference to her Brooklyn years, beginning only with her performance on Broadway in Funny Girl in 1968.
In 1993, a friend told writer Pete Hamill that "to Barbra, Brooklyn meant baseball, boredom and bad breath."
But on her website, Steisband has refuted that oft-reported sentiment, saying "I really dislike that for all these years Brooklyn had to be demeaned. I'm very proud to have come from there."
The last time she was reported to have returned to her home town was not to sing, but to campaign for Mayor David Dinkins at BAM on Oct. 27, 1993. She gave an impassioned speech praising Dinkins and lambasting Republican challenger Rudy Giuliani — who won the election. She came to BAM with two other former Brooklynites, songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman.
Streisand was born in Brooklyn to a working-class Jewish family in 1942. In her teens she lived in the Vanderveer Estates apartment complex in Flatbush, which later deteriorated into a high-crime development and still later was revived under the name Flatbush Gardens.
As a student at Erasmus Hall High School in the late 1950s, she sang in the same 100-member chorus as singer Neil Diamond, with whom she would later sing the duet "You Don’t Bring Me Flowers," but they did not know each other.
By contrast, her younger half sister, Rosalind Kind, starred in a Broadway revue called 3 From Brooklyn in 1992, and performed at the Brooklyn Center at Brooklyn College last month.
The website NoLandGrab.org quoted Council Member Letitia James as stating, at a recent public meeting, that Streisand "has a couple of days at the arena." A James spokesperson told the Eagle on Friday that she had "no information" on Streisand.