Yesterday, officials welcomed Barclays as the winner in the $400 million naming rights derby for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. The NY Times reports that the Nets looked at various entities to pitch the idea of becoming lucky one to pay lots of money to have its name on the Frank Gehry-designed arena and decided Barclays Bank "needed a game changer, that they don’t have as big a presence or brand recognition here as in the U.K." As they say, a sucker is born every minute!

We wonder how interested American corporations would have been - and how much Ratner was holding out for. Given that there are many lawsuits pending and prickly feelings from the community, anyone considering to be a part of the arena would have to think a few times before committing.

While the deal makes Ratner very rich, Barclays history is being questioned. The Brooklyn Paper notes that London-based Barclays' history "is inextricably linked to some of mankind’s lowest moments," such as the 18th century slave trade, the Holocaust (freezing Jewish customers' bank accounts), South African apartheid (doing business with the government), and the civil war in Congo.

When a Brooklyn Paper reporter asked [Barclays President Robert] Diamond about his company’s historic connection to the slave trade and apartheid, [Mayor] Bloomberg jumped in and, answering for Diamond, said: “Barclays is a great corporation. We could not have picked a better one. Barclays is as good as we could have found.”

City Councilwoman Letitia James said,"I am dismayed that Forest City Ratner has chosen to enter into a naming rights contract with Barclays Bank - a corporation with such a checkered past." The Daily News' Bob Raissman gets angry about the deal, writing "It was a day to celebrate greed and the latest money-making device for fat-cat owners."


Barclays, which has no US branches yet, says they will commit $2.5 million to renovating basketball courts and other play areas in Brooklyn. Also, the Barclays Center will host 200 non-basketball events a year. Watch out, MSG.

Top photograph of Nets investor Jay Z, aka Shawn Carter, and architect Frank Gehry and bottom photograph of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, all at the Barclays Center naming announcement at the Brooklyn Museum, by Kathy Willens/AP