7.12.2009

next stop, barclays

Oh dear. It's finally happened. This was inevitable, but I still find it so sad.
Selling the name of a subway station has been a goal of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for nearly five years. But interest has been low, even for a piece of real estate so recognizable to the public.

So it was with surprisingly little fanfare that the authority announced on Monday that it had finally found a buyer.

If a $4 million deal is approved on Wednesday, the nexus of subway stops at Atlantic Avenue, Pacific Street and Flatbush Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn will add an additional name to its already lengthy title: Barclays.

This may seem odd, since Barclays is a bank based in London with offices in Manhattan, and the only Barclay Street on the city map is not even in Brooklyn. (It's in Manhattan, in the financial district.)

There will, however, soon be a Barclays Center, the sports arena planned as the focal point of the Atlantic Yards project, and the developer, Forest City Ratner, has agreed to pay the transportation authority $200,000 a year for the next 20 years to rename one of the oldest and busiest stations in the borough.

This raises a few questions. An academic might talk of the intersection between public and private space. A straphanger may ask how all those names can fit into one announcement.

And if a company can pay to get its name on any station, a New Yorker might wonder what's next: Coca-Cola Presents 59th Street-Columbus Circle?

The answer is maybe.

. . . .

A few New York businesses contacted on Tuesday said they were not interested in a piece of the underground. Zabar's, the Upper West Side food emporium, said it was not interested in the 79th Street station. Macy's said a sponsorship deal at 34th Street was not in the cards.

And straphangers at the Atlantic Avenue station like Nick Desio, 53, a Citigroup employee who commutes from Long Island, said names were beside the point.

"They can call it anything they want, as long as my train's on time," he said.

2 comments:

Kim_in_TO said...

I just really want Subway restaurants to buy naming rights to a stop.

L-girl said...

I was glad to see this from the CNN story:

Several subway riders are outraged that Barclays has purchased the naming rights to this subway stop, which sees about 10 million people go through it each day.

One straphanger said, "A London Bank shouldn't be the name of this train station; it's something that belongs to the public domain."

Another said, "It's just everywhere we go, everything we do, it's just branding, branding, branding. It's America now."


Sadly, make that North America.