NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Nets’ opener at Barclays Center won’t go on as planned after all due to the devastating effects of megastorm Sandy.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the postponement during a press conference on Wednesday. The Nets were scheduled to make their regular-season debut in Brooklyn on Thursday against the rival Knicks.
“I’m sorry about the game,” said Bloomberg. “I was personally going to take my daughters and Diana (Taylor). We were looking forward to it.”
NBA spokesman Tim Frank said Tuesday that the league was “assessing the situation” after Sandy ravaged the five boroughs and flooded parts of New York City’s subway system. A decision to play on was announced later that night.
Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark told WFAN radio on Wednesday that the game “can be in many respects a rallying cry for New York.”
“Obviously it’s a devastation what went on here, and it’s going to take a long, long while until we recover,” Yormark said on the “Boomer & Carton” show. “We do need to move on.”
That won’t happen Thursday. Instead the Nets will open Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors, Bloomberg announced.
“The NBA will be working with the city to provide extra bus services,” Bloomberg said.
Barclays Center would normally be accessible by 11 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road. Limited subway service will resume Thursday, supplemented by a bus bridge linking Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Several subway tunnels under the East River flooded Monday night. The LIRR suffered flooding in one tunnel, and water from the unprecedented 13-foot storm surge flooded the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.
The NBA postponed Thursday’s game at the recommendation of Bloomberg, who realized players and some fans would be disappointed by the news.
“It’s a great stadium, it would have been a great game,” Bloomberg said. “But the bottom line is there is not a lot of mass transit. Our police have plenty of other things to do.”
Many were unhappy about the plan to play as scheduled. Craig Carton of WFAN blasted it as “offensive,” and wondered how many would be able to watch the game — in person or on television with millions still in the dark.
“As big as this game is, who’s going to the game?” said Carton. “Who’s gonna be interested — first off, half of us don’t have power, not gonna be able to watch the game anyway on TNT, number one. Number two, it’s offensive. It’s offensive to everybody that doesn’t have power, that’s displaced from their homes or far worse.”
WFAN co-host Boomer Esiason said he understood the need for normalcy, but “maybe in this instance, the basketball is a little bit too early for us.”
“My heart goes out to anyone who is in a bad spot right now,” said Yormark, who insisted there was no dissension Tuesday among the decision-makers.
Barclays Center called off Tuesday’s Journey concert and a Smashing Pumpkins show on Halloween night.
The Knicks’ home opener at Madison Square Garden is scheduled for Friday night against Miami.
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