Barclays Center, New York's newest entertainment destination and home of the Brooklyn Nets, opened Sept. 21 and started the Battle of New York Arenas. First blood was drawn by Brooklyn native son Jay-Z, who christened Barclays Center with eight sold-out concerts. Across the Brooklyn Bridge is Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks, which has dealt with competition in the past from arenas in New Jersey and Long Island. Like clockwork, the World's Most Famous Arena always comes out on top. New Yorkers and entertainers could change that by choosing Barclays as more worthy of their time and money. Here's a cheat sheet detailing what matters when deciding which arena to call home.
Madison Square Garden: When the Garden got an upgrade, so did its menu. The days of hot dogs, pretzels and Cracker Jack are long gone. Fancy fare such as lobster and shrimp rolls, goat-cheese-stuffed lamb sliders and sesame-crusted ahi tuna tickles fans' palates. For a high-class dining experience, fans can sit in the Ainsworth Prime, a gastro pub complete with white-linen tablecloths. Or they have can have a more sports-friendly experience at Daily Burger and enjoy a Daily Cheeseburger, a grilled blend of short ribs, brisket and chuck topped with cheese sauce on a Portuguese roll.
Barclays Center: Food in the new billion-dollar arena is reflective of Brooklyn, as many of the eateries on the concourse can be found in the borough. Fans can enjoy a square pizza slice from L&B Spumoni Gardens, root beer floats from neighborhood favorite Brooklyn Farmacy, and Mexican grilled corn from Café Habana, whose flagship store is blocks away from Barclays in the Fort Greene neighborhood. Barclays also volunteered to participate in New York's impending ban on supersized sugary drinks. Fans will not be able to get sodas larger than 16 ounces.
Advantage: Barclays Center
This is New York, a town built by the blue-collar worker who wants blue-collar food with flair at sporting events. The Madison Square Garden eats cater to Wall Street taste buds, while Barclays has more of a round-the-way feel. Both arenas have high food prices, but Barclays wins for staying true to its roots while simultaneously paying attention to patrons' waistlines.
Madison Square Garden: All roads used to lead to Rome, but that was before the Garden was built. Now the 18,000-seat arena is at the center of transportation for New Yorkers. Penn Station, a transportation complex directly under Madison Square Garden, provides an easy route to the Garden. Fans from the suburbs can take New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Railroad and city dwellers can utilize one of the six New York City subway lines that stop at the arena. If fans from Boston, Washington, D.C., or Philadelphia want to catch a road game, they can hop on the convenient BoltBus, which picks up and drops off in front of the arena.
Barclays Center: Barclays is right next to Atlantic Terminal, the transportation crossroads of Brooklyn where eight subways and a railroad system meet. It's also minutes from the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, which connect the borough to Manhattan. Plenty of New York City buses also make their rounds to the arena.
Advantage: Madison Square Garden
As much a Brooklynites hate to admit it, Manhattan is at the center of everything, which makes Madison Square Garden more accessible to fans. The Garden is also more accessible to people from out of state. Those who have never been to New York City know the famous 34th Street location, just blocks from the Empire State Building. Barclays doesn't have the name and location recognition that Madison Square Garden enjoys.
Barclays Center: With a capacity of 18,000 for a basketball game, Barclays rivals the size of the Garden. But that's where the similarities end. The new arena feels like the hottest club in town, with several exclusive venues for fans to enjoy. A courtside VIP area sponsored by Calvin Klein, the ultra-ritzy Vault and jamming 40/40 Club let fans party the night away no matter how much they spent on entry. The lighting emanating from the arena offsets the weird rusty-spaceship-looking design.
Madison Square Garden: Construction on the current version of the Garden was begun in 1964, and it is undergoing its second renovation in almost half a decade. Some say there's no atmosphere to rival a pumped-up Madison Square Garden when one of its resident sports teams is rocking. And, any entertainer who's "made it" needs to perform at Madison Square Garden -- it's a stepping-stone to success.
Advantage: Barclays Center
While Madison Square Garden is the World's Most Famous Arena, it has not caught up with those built more recently. Its ongoing renovation is an attempt to bring it into the present. But it can't compete with an arena that opened weeks ago. The Nets' owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhrov, spent a pretty penny on making his arena first- class. A trip to Barclays will have you feeling like a true baller.
Barclays Center: Jay-Z is the lead celebrity for what is sure to be a star-studded Barclays Center. With hip-hop's king running things and his queen, wife Beyoncé, by his side, there's no doubt other royalty, like Diddy, Lil' Kim, Lil Wayne, Russell Simmons and Nicki Minaj, will be on the sidelines at Brooklyn Nets games.
Madison Square Garden: Certain Garden celebrities are fixtures. Spike Lee, Chris Rock and Billy Crystal are as common at a Knicks game as a jump ball. The Garden also has a magic that causes celebrities and fans to become one while cheering on their squad.
Advantage: To Be Determined
The Garden has cornered the market on celebrity-laden sidelines, but Barclays may challenge that once the Nets' regular season begins on Nov. 1. Madison Square Garden may rule the New York City sports scene now, but Barclays undoubtedly has next.