As the Barclays Center's approaches, its operator is applying for a liquor license for , but neighborhood residents are concerned how alcohol-fueled fans may affect the area’s quality of life.
During a joint Community Board 2 and Board 6 meeting at the NYPD’s 78th Precinct stationhouse on Tuesday night, about 100 neighborhood residents, local business owners, community organizations and local politicians voiced their concerns about how the Barclays Center’s imminent liquor license will create over-intoxicated and rowdy basketball fans and concert-goers who may disturb the residential neighborhoods in the arena’s footprint.
After the two-and-a-half-hour long meeting, CB2 voted to approve the recommendation of the arena’s liquor license with conditions. However, CB6 voted to table the application until its April 23rd meeting with a request that Levy Restaurants, , and AEG Facilities, which will be Barclays’ operator, set up a community advisory committee to flesh out issues concerning the arena’s specific cut-off times for alcohol sales, security measures and garbage clean up immediately after each event.
, the treasurer of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, said that the Barclays Center liquor license may be the largest licensee for full liquor sales in the borough, and their application should not be taken lightly.
"At this date, neither the applicants nor the city has presented information sufficient for local communities to make an informed judgment that any liquor license granted for the arena at this time should be provisional and for a period of one year only," he said, explaining that the arena operators should work with the NYPD and the community to identify and resolve security and quality-of-life issues that may arise from thousands of basketball fans who may be drunk and rowdy.
After the first year, Veconi suggested, the operators should then apply for a new license, which was one of CB2’s stipulations they voted on at the end of the meeting.
But a Levy representative explained that they do not take serving alcohol to its patrons lightly.
"We take the responsibility of serving alcohol very seriously," Julie Margolin, Levy’s director of operations, said to the crowded room. She explained that one of their priorities is to ensure that their staff will be properly trained to serve liquor (under the Safe Serve program) and that patrons are not over served. "When someone is visibly intoxicated, we will not serve them and call security if they are acting out. We want to make sure that Brooklynites are safe in their neighborhood."
Levy’s liquor permit lawyer, Robert Skene, explained that the arena will have 57 points of sale—27 of them will only sell beer and the remaining 30 will sell beer, wine and spirits.
The last call for alcohol will be at the end of the third quarter during all basketball games at the arena, which is in accordance with NBA regulations. Margolin also explained that patrons will only be allowed to buy a maximum of two alcoholic drinks per valid ID per visit to a concession stand.
A major concern of the community was how Levy plans to prevent serving underage patrons with bogus IDs.
Margolin said that their staff will be highly trained to read IDs by hand, instead of using electronic scanners which she said can be fooled by fakes.
“We take identification very seriously, we will not rely on the readers, but actually do a physical check,” she said. “We will actually inspect each one, read it, touch it and make sure that it is real.”
But a man in the crowd said he’d rather see technology perform the checks instead of humans.
“With 57 points of sale, that leaves 57 variables for human error,” the man said, who did not want to give his name. “There is a very sophisticated market for making fake IDs. I am surprised that you’re relying on humans.”
Margolin also said that anyone who appears under the age of 30 will be carded before they are served and Levy and AEG reserve the right to ask anyone holding an alcoholic beverage to present their ID at anytime. “No one will be served underage,” she said.
Levy currently holds 85 liquor licenses throughout the US and Canada, including the Staples Center in Los Angeles—serving about 5 million people nationwide per year—and do not have one liquor violation, their liquor permit lawyer, Robert Skene said.
David Anderson, AEG's vice president of Event and Guest Services, said that they will not let ticket holders come into the arena if they are drunk.
“If anyone is inebriated before they enter, we have the right to revoke their ticket,” Anderson said. He also explained that if anyone is misbehaving or acting out that they will be “referred to the police.”
But and specific security measures AEG will employ, Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Fort Greene, said that she will not support approving a recommendation for the arena’s liquor license.
"I think this application is premature. Forest City Ratner hasn’t answered us about safety and traffic. At this point, I have serious reservations about your liquor license until these issues are resolved," James said to Barclays’ officials. "I can’t say that I will be doing my job without knowing what precinct will have oversight of the arena."
Bob Sena, an AEG executive, said that they will employ security guards who are former and off-duty police officers that will patrol inside, outside and the perimeter of the arena. Security will be, "looking out for unruly behavior" and "watch out for the community," Sena said.
However, not everyone in the room was against approving the liquor license. David Vendley, the co-owner of Calexico, a restaurant on Union Street, said that the community should support Barclays and their liquor license.
"I like to drink beer at games, but I don't want to get drunk. To lump everyone who drinks at arenas together and say that selling liquor is going to create an unruly group of people in a gross assumption," David Vendley said.
Levy is planning to submit their application to the State Liquor Authority on April 27 to ensure that they receive the official go-ahead before the first event at the arena on September 28, .
Although CB6 decided to table the application, its Permits and Licenses and Public Safety committee chair, Gary Reilly, said that the SLA will grant Barclays Center a liquor license—even over community objections.
"What’s going to happen is that the SLA will give them a [liquor] license and [Levy Restaurants] will submit an application at the end of April," Reilly said. "No one should be under the illusion that this is liquor license will not be granted. I bet you everything I own that it will be granted."