Governor of New York David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz were amongst other dignitaries who attended the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Barclays center at Atlantic Yards.
The 18,000-seat world class sports and entertainment arena will be home to the future Brooklyn Nets, marking the first professional team in Brooklyn, since the Sandy Koufax-Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers days in 1958.
On hand participating in the ceremony was Rabbi Ari Kirschenbaum, Director of Chabad Prospect Heights East, in which the stadium and development project will be constructed.
He was invited by Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, a long time friend and supporter of Chabad’s projects over the past years ever since 2003 when he first envisioned the project.
Ratner has sponsored everything from Chabad Prospect Heights/Fort Greene’s annual Chanukah events in his Atlantic Center Mall, to publicly displayed Menorahs at his numerous office buildings throughout the Brooklyn area and beyond, as well as subsidized many of their community based cultural and educational programs.
Ratner and Executive Vice President Bruce Bender greeted Rabbi Kirschenbaum warmly and assured him that both the arena and other public spaces to be built will also be used for religious, community and multi-cultural activities and that Jewish-based programming will definitely be on the agenda.
Rabbi Kirschenbaum offered his blessing and pledged his continued assistance in all matters related to the project.