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Monday, June 8, 2009

Frank Gehry Out as Atlantic Yards Arena Architect

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 2:55 PM

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What with no Cavs basketball to pay attention to for the next couple of months, discussion about the Cavs among fans and faux media types will center around not only what Danny Ferry should do to upgrade the roster for next year, but what that, among many other bits of news, means to the prospects of LeBron James staying in Cleveland instead of bolting for more Eastern locations come the summer of 2010.

The occurrences in Brooklyn, New Jersey, are obviously going to be part of that idle chatter. Jay-Z, New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, etc.

Well, if LeBron — who didn't just buy any old mansion for himself, but had one custom built — cares about architecture, the fact that the world-renowned Frank Gehry is no longer designing the Brooklyn arena could be an important development. (Or not. Actually, most assuredly not, but we have to talk about something LeBron/NY-related to pass the time, right? That's like rule No. 3 of writing a Cleveland sports blog.)

The new design, which will cost about $200 million less, comes from Ellerbe Becket, an architectural firm based in Kansas City, Mo., that specializes in convention centers, stadiums and arenas and designed Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where the Indiana Pacers play. Officials who have seen the design say that while it resembles Conseco Fieldhouse it also bears a likeness to an “airplane hangar.”

There's still any number of hurdles for this project to clear before it becomes a certainty. First, he's got to get construction underway before the end of the year, when his right to use tax-exempt financing for the project will go bye-bye. Second, it's Bruce Ratner — that is a hurdle unto itself. Anyone really believe this thing's going to be ready for 2011? (Gehry remains the primary designer of the rest of the Atlantic Yards complex.)

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