By Brad Kallet, WFAN.com
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Friday was a red-letter day for the borough of Brooklyn and for New York City as the Barclays Center was unveiled to the press.
A news conference was held prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and all of the major players involved in the project -- in addition to local political leaders -- stood in front of the podium to express their excitement and enthusiasm about the brand new arena.
Sitting on the stage were Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Barclays Executive Chairman of the Americas Thomas L. Kalaris and Barclays Center and Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark.
Bloomberg called it "a great day for Brooklyn and a great day for New York City," while Prokhorov promised a top-notch product for Brooklyn's new hardcourt.
"I can assure you we are bringing a team worthy of this great arena and worthy of Brooklyn," Prokhorov proclaimed to a rousing applause.
Ratner could barely contain his excitement.
"We needed to finance an arena when no one thought that was possible, and we did it," Ratner said exuberantly.
Once each member on the stage spoke, the ribbon-cutting ensued. And just like that, the long-awaited Barclays Center was christened.
Brooklynites have been waiting for this moment for years, for decades. The Barclays Center will be the first new major sports and entertainment indoor arena in New York since 1968, and the Brooklyn Nets will be the first major sports team in Brooklyn since the beloved Dodgers packed their bags for Los Angeles in 1957.
The venue is 675,000 square feet, and aside from the state-of-the-art amenities, it has the feel of a truly old-school entertainment complex. It may not be Ebbets Field -- that will certainly never be recreated -- but the court is reminiscent of those from the old ABA arenas. The brand new Nets logo is proudly enshrined at half court, and the intimate setting will surely make for an electric environment during basketball games and concerts.
The new arena will host roughly 220 events in its first year of existence. In one of the most hyped-up events in recent history, Jay-Z will break the Barclays Center in on Friday with the first of eight performances. The Nets and the Knicks will battle for city bragging rights on November 1 in the first regular season contest held at the arena, and stars such as Barbra Streisand, Rihanna, Bob Dylan, Justin Bieber and The Who will take the stage for the 19,000-seat capacity crowd.
What will make the Barclays Center unique for visitors is its nightlife aspect. In addition to hosting Nets basketball, concerts, boxing matches and ice shows, the arena has 101 luxury suites, four bars and lounges and three clubs -- one of which is the 40/40 Club, a chain which is owned by none other than Jay-Z. The arena will also feature the Calvin Klein Courtside Club, where patrons will have the opportunity to luxuriously lounge around prior to and after events.
In keeping with local tradition, much of the food at the arena will come from popular local Brooklyn restaurants and vendors, such as Brooklyn Burger, Avenue Deli, Fatty 'Cue, Brooklyn Bangers and Paisanos. Locals will feel comfortable and at home with the culinary selections, and visitors will experience the unique, one-of-a-kind tastes that the borough has to offer.
And what would a new arena be like without state-of-the-art technology for its many thousands of visitors? Free wireless will be available throughout the arena, and Ratner's ultimate goal is to have one of the first arenas in the world to support the 4G LTE network. Fans will be connected to the world like never before as they take in memorable events and experiences.
Brooklyn has been waiting for this moment for over four decades, and a new era in the city's history will begin in just days. It was a long time coming -- far longer than anyone could have ever imagined -- but the journey is just around the corner.
Are you ready for the Barclays Center, New Yorkers? Because the Barclays Center is certainly ready for you.
Do you have tickets for any events yet? Which ones are you planning on attending? Let us know in the comments section below!
Brad Kallet is a web producer for CBSNewYork.com. He has written for TENNIS.com, MiLB.com and SMASH Magazine, among others. You can follow him on Twitter here.
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