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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. Once upon a time, geographic relevance determined a station’s name, but now, the authority says it is open to any naming agreements that can raise revenue for its transit system, including ones not directly tied to location.