That resounding “Ewwwww!” you heard emanating from Brooklyn was the sound of locals discovering that as part of Bruce Ratner’s revamped deal with the MTA for the Atlantic Yards site, he’s set to get naming rights to the Atlantic Avenue subway station. If it’s approved by the MTA board tomorrow as expected, the new station name — which as Ben Kabak notes at Second Avenue Sagas would bear the unwieldy moniker “Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street/Barclays Center — would presumably be put in place once Ratner’s new basketball arena opens, which is set to happen any century now.
While this would be the MTA’s first successful corporate naming rights sale, the writing has been on the tiled wall for some time now: The authority tried to get the Mets to cough up for “Citi Field” signs at their stop, don’t forget, and when the team wasn’t interested instead went with a moniker of “Willets Point/Mets.” (Though at last check there were still plenty of “Willets Point/Shea Stadium” signs keeping the old-school faith.)
And before that, Ratner’s MetroTech got its name attached to the Lawrence Street M/N/R station gratis in the ’90s; if the MTA really wants to earn some pennies, in fact, it might want to consider going after rights fees for the numerous stations that act as free ads for their neighbors, including 8th Street/NYU and 116th Street/Columbia. And, come to think of it, is slapping a corporate name on station signs in plain old Helvetica really more egregious than slapping H&M ads on turnstiles?
The bigger question now, though — aside from whether $200,000 is a fair score for the right to hear your bank’s name intoned by the robo-conductor on the #4 train umpteen times a day — is, as Kabak puts it, “What is stopping Disney from buying the naming rights to Times Square? Who wants to get off at 42nd St./Times Square/Disney? What about 59th St./Bloomingdales?”
Sure, maybe, MTA spokesperson Jeremy Soffin tells the Voice: “We’re very open, I would say, at this point. We’re really taking it on a case-by-case basis.” While he says it would “make less sense” for a corporation to buy the name of a station with only a tenuous geographic connection, “it’s not to say we would rule it out.”
In which case, one can’t help wondering if the MTA should have shopped around for an alternative to the slavery bank by seeing if, say, Target wanted to put up its own bid for the Atlantic/Pacific station. Or if that’s still too evil for you, at least MOMA.