Bloomberg Promises 2,000 Jobs at the Barclays Center, Sort Of

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Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Mayor Bloomberg was at the under-construction Barclays Center arena this morning to announce a plan to fill 2,000 jobs at the future home of the Brooklyn Nets, with locals and residents of nearby housing projects given priority.

Developer Bruce Ratner, whose firm Forest City Ratner is building the Barclays Center, was enthusiastic but parsimonious with details. He said about 90 percent of the jobs will be part-time, up to 30 hours a week, with the remainder full-time. Ticket-takers and drink slingers don't work every day, and Ratner acknowledged that "at any one time, we'll have at most 800 people in the arena ... on a major event.

So, what would be the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, a not uncommon measure? 

"I don't have any idea what that is," responded the famously data-driven mayor.

It was pointed out to him that the Empire State Development Corporation estimated FTE employment at 1,120.

"The state can say anything they want," responded Bloomberg testily. "I don't know."

"They approved the project," this reporter continued.

"That's fine. What does that got to do with their numbers? Maybe their numbers are right, maybe their numbers are wrong," Bloomberg responded. "Address it to the state, don't address it to me."

Ratner took the podium and cracked a joke: "Norman, we've created one more job. That's a job for you."

A Forest City spokesman later provided a figure: 1,240 FTE jobs.

How much will the workers earn? Again, the details were sparse. Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz declared that "the arena would create thousands of excellent-paying jobs."

Ratner said: "They will likely organize into a union, and they'll negotiate a wage. It'll be above living wage, I'm sure."

"But that's not the government forcing them to do it," Bloomberg said. "And if we forced them to do it, we'd have to give them more of a subsidy to get this thing going."

Bloomberg was also asked about residents' concerns, referenced in a Daily News report yesterday about narrow sidewalks near the arena, that the streets would be swamped.

"Most people are going to come by mass transit," Bloomberg said. "I don't think those fears ... I think people will realize that's not really something that's going to happen."

Bloomberg, who was celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day, introduced Markowitz with a bit of doggerel:

Coming to Brooklyn is always a party

Raising the roof, just me and Marty

But with the Nets, much better it'll be

Forget about Marty and me, it's Jay-Z

Brooklyn journalist Norman Oder is the author of the Atlantic Yards Report.