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Basketball City Officially Opens on Pier 36

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Friday's "official opening" of Basketball City on Pier 36.

As we reported on Friday, more than 100 kids from local schools and elected officials came to Pier 36 to celebrate the long-awaited official opening of Basketball City.  The 70,000 square foot facility, located at the end of Montgomery Street, features seven courts, locker rooms, a restaurant and a promenade with access to the East River.

The facility hosts corporate basketball and volleyball leagues, as well as children from neighborhood schools.  It’s also a large-events venue. A few weeks ago, Basketball City was the site for a huge bike expo attended by 45,000 people.  As part of his agreement with Community Board 3, Bruce Radler (the organization’s owner) plans to hold youth sports clinics, beginning in the fall.

During Friday’s media event, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the opening represented the end of a 26 year-long battle for control of the pier. In 1986, Silver sued the city, arguing that the pier should be reserved for community use. The Dinkins administration intended to use the East Side location for a refueling station and for storage.

Radler, who opened Basketball City on the West Side, in 1997, said it was an emotional moment for him when the kids ran onto the courts Friday morning.  City Council member Margaret Chin said the facility is an invaluable resource for the children of the Lower East Side and Chinatown.

In the last several years, community groups pressed Radler for more community access at Basketball City.  David Garza, executive director of Henry Street Settlement, said he’s been very impressed with Radler’s commitment to hiring locally. Henry Street is part of a consortium, the LES Employment Network, that’s helping to recruit potential employees.  Following the festivities last week, we met one new employee, Robert Gaskin, a maintenance worker who had previously been working as a Henry Street intern.

The site is owned by the city and managed by the NYC Economic Development Corp.  Basketball City was financed, in part, through the New Market Tax Credit, a federal program designed to generate economic development in low-income neighborhoods. The refurbished building features energy-efficient lighting, gas fired heating systems and a maple floor that rests on a environmentally friendly composite floor.

Basketball City’s courts are not available for “pick-up games.”  Radler said it’s a model that has been tried and failed in other parts of the country.

Henry Street's David Garza, Council member Chin, Speaker Silver, Bruce Radler.



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  1. with all the hoopla and anticipation surrounding the opening, i wish there was more information available about this place. your article mentions a restaurant and their website vaguely mentions fitness equipment. no real info and details are given other than league sign-ups. what about the rest of the community who are interested in utilizing the space that doesn’t play basketball? it looked closed when i walked by there late friday afternoon after the “official opening” and i didn’t see anyone.

  2.  They will have a bar I’m told.  I’d check the details of the current west side location, I imagine it’s similar.  They do plan to do events and have done a few already.  They threw a bone to the community to get the deal done, not sure how much they actually gave the community.

  3. The restaurant has a liquor license.  The West Side facility is no longer open. Basketball City is not set up to be a community center. In other words, it’s not a place where you can walk in and shoot some baskets. The owner, Bruce Radler, says he’s made a big commitment to hosting local school kids and to holding clinics for children. There are some scholarships available.  The way BC makes money is to host big corporate leagues. There was quite a bit of controversy over Basketball City; you can see our previous coverage here:


  4. Having to only discover this blog only late last yr, i wasn’t aware of the controversy surrounding this corporate parasite; thinly veiled as a champion for inner-city youth. Thank you for the link. After reading all the articles in one place and chronologically, one can clearly see their profitable intentions from the very beginning and how the community had been bamboozled by empty promises. I’m very bothered because i was naive giving the benefit of the doubt to think that BC was community-friendly given the funding it’d received. Not once did i even question it. Very disconcerting…

    @a485a947c549660f0aa4cd3c6bbb1e45:disqus, “a bone” is absolutely correct…

    Thank you to The Lo-Down for keeping us informed about our community.

  5. So how will this benefit the LES community? will our children be able to use the facility? If its not open to the LES community how is this something positive? This sounds like just anther propaganda for a company to benefit an reap the benefits. Someone please clarify.

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