NEW YORK -- Early Friday morning on a clear day in Brooklyn, the Nets had more than 250 outlets attend the official unveiling of the Barclays Center, their new home. We were one of the outlets granted access and teamed up with The Verge, our sister tech site, to provide a glimpse into what makes this arena so special, particularly from a tech perspective. Since the Nets are calling it the most technically advanced sports venue ever, we wanted to see for ourselves.
While Nilay Patel, my colleague at The Verge, dives into the tech details, I was more concerned about what kinds of food I could eat. And there are plenty. I think one of the coolest parts of the new arena is the team stayed true to its roots; most of the vendors are Brooklyn-based. The fact that they had a Junior's outpost there pretty much automatically makes it the coolest arena ever. And if you don't know what Junior's is, I'm not sure what to tell you. Google it (or click here)
Among some of the cooler features I spotted:
- Phone-charging stations on the concourses (and not just iPhone chargers).
- Digital photo booths, where you can pose in front of a painting of the Brooklyn Bridge and have the photo strip emailed to you (imagine the drunken debauchery that could be associated with this endeavor).
- Full view of the practice court looking down from when you first enter the main entrance.
- Xbox 360 where you can shoot hoops and fly over the arena (for real, that's what they told me).
- A shelf above the urinals where you can rest your beverage(s) -- (note: I did not personally witness this, thanks to Darren Rovell, we got that first glimpse).
- A Mondavi wine club (for all your oenophiles out there).
- Ordering food from the Barclays app, and picking it up in an express lane.
- An all inclusive pass, which you can use with any vendor and get as much food as you like without paying (note: no idea how much that ticket retails).
- Two hundred seventy-five wi-fi access points, which should mean FREE WI-FI THAT WON'T CRAP THE BED AFTER THE FIRST 5 MINUTES OF THE GAME BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE JAMMING THE NETWORK.
Oh, and they also let us go in the control booth and play with all the buttons. Never done that before, can officially check it off my list.
Bottom line: When it comes to new ballparks/stadiums/arenas, it takes a lot to impress me. I feel most are cookie-cutter boxes, which offer a few "unique" things, but never truly make you feel as if you're in a place really special. The Barclays Center is very much that place. It's a place I wouldn't mind hanging out in for hours at a time, and with the Brooklyn landscapes both inside and literally right outside the window, it makes you feel as though you're very much a part of the borough's fabric.