Brooklyn Arena Funds OK’d

The return of professional sports to Brooklyn, N.Y., took a step closer to reality March 3rd. The governor of New York and the mayor of its largest city inked an agreement to each kick in $100 million toward a complex in the borough that would include a 19,000-seat arena.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki agreed to help fund the $2.5 billion project, to be built by developer Bruce Ratner above the Atlantic rail yards.

The non-binding agreement was negotiated for nearly a year. It calls for Ratner to build a $435 million, Frank Gehry-designed, glass-enclosed arena, more than a dozen residential buildings containing at least 4,500 apartments and an entertainment district on the 21-acre site, according to The New York Times.

Ratner, president and CEO of Forest City Ratner Cos., owns the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and hopes to move the team from its current home at the Continental Airlines Arenain East Rutherford, N.J., to Brooklyn for the 2007-08 season.

The project is expected to create 12,000 construction jobs and 8,500 permanent jobs, the mayor’s office said.

“This is a historic project that will continue to energize the borough of Brooklyn,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

Pataki, in his statement, said the city was now “one step closer to bringing professional sports back to Brooklyn.”

Forest City Ratner would relocate and reconfigure the Long Island Rail Road yard and build and maintain the platform. The rail yard would remain operable through all phases of construction.

The arena plans face community opposition and must survive environmental review and discussion at public hearings.

At least one rival developer owns property on the proposed site, and currently opposes the project. And neighborhood preservation groups have organized opposition to the project, citing loss of homes and jobs for current residents.