And you thought the bonuses were the worst part of the AIG bailout. If you happen to oppose Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project, it turns out that there might be bigger fish to fry, as the gang over at Develop Don’t Destory Brooklyn are blaming the bailout for helping to keep the notoriously nascent project afloat.
In a press release, DDDB argues that because AIG paid $8.5 billion of its $170 billion federal bailout to Barclays, and Barclays is paying $400 million to Ratner for the naming rights of the arena, Ratner is therefore receiving $400 billion from the federal government. DDDB’s Dan Goldstein put it thusly:
Why are TARP bailout funds flowing through AIG to a British bank to Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises for a billion dollar arena in Brooklyn? Why are federal taxpayers being forced to pay for Barclays’ marketing scheme? There is no justification for it, especially as TARP funds are supposed to spur banks to start lending again, rather than prop up activities such as the Barclays-Ratner boondoggle. The federal bailout of AIG was not intended to assist Barclays in hyping its brand in Brooklyn, or to help them slap their logo, for 20 years, no less, on a basketball arena already heavily dependent on city, state and federal subsidies.
UPDATE: Then again, we’ve been wrong before. Both the Bergen County Record and Daily News look into the bailout connection, which seems to pass their smell test. News columnist Juan Gonzalez connects the dots:
For those who have forgotten, Barclays is the bank that agreed back in 2007 to pay $400 million in a 20-year naming rights deal for Forest City Ratner’s proposed new basketball arena in Brooklyn.
Last November, in the midst of a world financial meltdown, and with prospects for Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project looking bleaker than ever, Barclays reaffirmed its intention to spend that $400 million for what is essentially vanity advertising.
So just around the time Barclays receives $8.5 billion from AIG’s bailout package, the British firm decides to go forward with its naming rights deal in Brooklyn.
If it ever gets built, we should call it the American Bailout Arena, for the old ABA, where the Nets got their start.
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