Nets arena cheap seats should come with oxygen bottles

I attended my first Brooklyn Nets game last night, and my overall impression didn’t change much from my earlier visits to the Barclays Center for concerts: The design lends itself to major foot traffic jams both getting in and getting out, the acoustics are lousy, and the food is overpriced even by sports concessions standards. ($7 for a small container of popcorn, $6.75 for a square slice of pizza, beers starting at $8.50.) Mostly, though, since we had bought cheap tickets for the last rows of the upper deck, the overall impression was: Man, these seats are ridiculously high.

How high, exactly, is a question I’ve been trying to figure out since getting home from the game. The roof at Barclays Center peaks 137 feet above street level, and the floor is about 20 feet below. The New York Mets‘ Citi Field, by contrast, is 116 feet tall, with a field that’s pretty much at grade. Now, the last row of seats at Barclays isn’t quite up to the peak of the roof, but it’s pretty close — meaning that, at least by this rough guesstimate, the worst seat at the Nets’ 18,000-seat arena is just about as bad as the worst seat at the Mets’ 40,000-seat stadium.

If anyone out there has more precise figures, please share them, as this is a very rough back-of-the-envelope estimate. Still, it’s a reminder of just how bad a double layer of luxury suites can be for the views of everyone sitting above them, not to mention an indication that something went badly wrong in the design when Bruce Ratner was value engineering it. And, of course, it’s only going to get worse for hockey.


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11 comments on “Nets arena cheap seats should come with oxygen bottles

  1. You should check out some of the renderings for the Seattle Arena. I believe some of them showed grading comparisons vs. Barclays Center and Staples Center.

    I know it’s very egalitarian to blame the luxury boxes but the real villains IMO are the rank and file fans who prefer steeper seating bowls. Staples Center has a more gradual pitch than any basketball/hockey arena I’ve been in and the result is that the highest seats are about even with Barclays Center despite having 2,000 more seats and a full three decks of luxury suites.

  2. I’ve never heard any fans say they prefer steeper seating bowls. The rake of the Barclays upper deck is determined by geometry: Thanks to those suites, even with the precipitous angle we were at last night, I had trouble seeing over people’s heads. Lower the angle, and it would have been even worse — not to mention that it would have required a bigger arena footprint, which clearly Ratner was trying to avoid at all costs.

  3. They’re pretty bad by NYC standards. I haven’t been to MSG in a couple of years, though, so can’t do a direct comparison there.

  4. A major problem with sitting in the upper deck at Barclay’s Center is that the aisles are very narrow-if you are over 6 feet tall you will be uncomfortable sitting there-the drink cups installed on the right side of the seat back make it even more uncomfortable-unlike in the upper deck at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

    You constantly have to stand up (during the game )in order to let someone through the aisle in order for them to get to their seat.

    The lighting in the upper deck is also non-existent and people are constantly sitting in the wrong seats (and aisles) since they cannot read their tickets.

    Overall, a very unpleasant experience which I believe was deliberately designed both to save money in construction as well as to have you sit in the lower bowl-at a much higher ticket price-in which you will not experience the same problems.

  5. I think the problem with the upper tier seating bowls in the new buildings is the double whammy of their not only being steeper, but higher, and then farther back from the court or ice or field. The upper deck in the old Yankee Stadium was the steepest bowl I ever sat in but you were right on top of the field so it didn’t matter (at least it didn’t to me). In the pre-Transformation MSG the entire bowl wasn’t very steep but the ceiling in the arena is low (because the playing surface is a few floors above the street, unlike at Barclays) so it still felt intimate. The few times I have been to Barclays we have deliberately purchased seats in low rows in the corner sections in the upper tier. By no means great seats, but certainly better than the higher rows in the upper tier levels behind the benches.

  6. @Ben, the comparison of the Seattle Vapor-techture arena (seating 18500 for basketball) with Barclay’s Center (which seats 17800) is in the slideshow at the very bottom of .

    What you can evaluate from the instagram picture in this post and the comparison is that the proposed Sonic Ring seats would probably be obstructed by the bottom of a center court scoreboard, but technically closer.

  7. @chefJoe

    Thank you. That was what I was referencing.


    The problem isn’t the upper bowl, it’s the lower bowl. When the lowers are too steep it has a domino effect on the height of the whole structure. The Nets lower bowl probably has 22-24 rows at the same height as Staples Center’s 32 lower bowl rows.

    On fans preferring a steeper seating pitch, I don’t know of any surveys but I know that team owners perceive that their fans prefer it. I can recall a Penguins exec touting the steep pitch of their bowl, along with Oregon’s bball arena and Chris Hansen in Seattle. I also think it’s one of the many reasons that Meadowlands Stadium is disappointing.

  8. Good takes all around.

    Another problem with Barclays’ narrow aisles are that the people in front of you will often knock their heads against your head when it’s an intense game or vice versa, which is worse meaning that someone behind you kicks you in the head accidentally.

    As mentioned above, the lighting is lame as well. I have no idea why theatre lighting seems like such a wonderful thing. This is sports, not a movie or play. The Lakers went with it and now everyone thinks it’s something that they need for their arena. One thing I will say for Barclays is that they turn the lights up a bit when there is a break in the action or between quarters and halves to allow patrons to actually be able to see when they walk around.

    Speaking of Staples, agree all the way on how bad it is in the upper deck. It’s a hockey arena and they got not one but two NBA teams to pay them rent. If I were the Lakers or Clippers, I’d do what the Nets did only do it better. Build in an open area like Hollywood Park so you’re not limited by space like you are with Barclays and Staples and make just one row of luxury suites. With a wide enough bowl, you can get 72 suites in just one row. Portland does that and the arena is great. With LA being the 2nd largest market in the country, naming rights won’t be a problem. In fact if it’s the Lakers, you could probably pay for 2/3rds the cost off of naming rights alone plus now you will be controlling all events that come through as opposed to paying rent to AEG.

    Despite what owners may think, fans don’t want steeper bowls. They justify their cheapness by squeezing an arena into small areas then pawn off the steep angle on the fans’ “desires”.

  9. I read that the Blazers had to cut prices on their suites. They built the lower bowl so steep that the boxes were too far away on the corners and ends.

  10. @Ben Miller

    It all comes down to math. 72 suites times whatever you charge for being a little higher than a normal mid level suite vs. 60 something suites x price at normal level. The number probably isn’t too far off but the benefit to having higher suites is that you have a larger lower bowl so you have extra lower bowl tickets to sell.

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