Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Basketball City Founder/CEO Bruce Radler, other elected officials and more than 100 local school children today opened Basketball City, an athletic complex on the East River’s Pier 36 that will host recreation programs for youth and adults. Following the announcement, students from Lower East Side schools participated in drills and games.
"Like a three-point buzzer beater, Basketball City will provide a jolt of excitement to our community," Speaker Silver said. "By providing court time for children on the Lower East Side, Chinatown and throughout the city, we are opening crucial, much-needed new recreational space. I led the fight to make sure this space is used for the benefit of our community, and I am delighted to be able to join my neighbors on the court."
"We are extremely excited to finally open our new state-of-the-art facility, after a very long development process," Radler said. "Basketball City provides a platform to continue many of our community outreach efforts that we started when we opened Basketball City on the West Side in September 1997. This new facility enables us to provide services to various groups like schools, youth organizations, corporations, nonprofits and to hold special events. We have already seen how the development of this facility has brought additional events and revenue to the city of New York."
The 70,000-square-foot Basketball City complex features seven courts, full locker rooms, and a sports-themed café. Basketball City runs basketball leagues for adults and youth, operates youth camps and clinics, and hosts nonprofit fundraisers and special events.
It also conducts basketball and volleyball games and programs for schools and youth organizations. In addition, Basketball City will offer free programs and scholarships for children in need. As part of the deal that brought Basketball City to Pier 36, the company rebuilt the pier and opened the waterfront to the public.
In 1993, Silver, along with members of Community Board 3, successfully sued the city over plans to turn Pier 36 into a fueling station and storage lot for municipal vehicles. Silver’s suit forced the city to instead develop the pier for community use. Basketball City was selected through a competitive bidding process to build and operate the complex.
Working with the Lower East Side Employment Network, Basketball City has hired local residents to fill its open jobs and plans to continue hiring from the neighborhood.
"Not only will this facility provide safe, healthy recreational options for our children, but it will also help draw our neighborhood together by offering additional space for community events," said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. "I'm proud to see this project come on line and look forward to seeing it benefit Lower East Side residents."
"I am happy to welcome Basketball City to the Lower East Side," Council Member Margaret Chin said. "If there is one thing young people in our community are passionate about, it’s basketball. Basketball City is unique in that it will provide an opportunity for young people to organize leagues and practice good sportsmanship while honing their skills on the court. I want to thank Bruce Radler and Basketball City for going above and beyond to ensure that this facility meets the needs of the Lower East Side community and local residents."
"Community Board 3 has been working with our elected officials and Bruce Radler for years to plan the community benefits from this facility," said Community Board 3 Chairman Dominic Pisciotta Berg. "We are finally seeing the fruits of our efforts. Schools and community youth will have new opportunities for free and low-cost programmed recreation and needed court space. We will have new public waterfront space. Working with the Lower East Side Employment Network, Basketball City has filled some of its jobs with local residents and plans to continue hiring from the neighborhood. This is an exciting day for our neighborhood, and we look forward to a continuing great relationship with Basketball City."
"There's an expression, ‘win/win’ that describes when multiple stakeholders do well in a situation. Well, the Basketball City project has turned out to be a four-way win for the Lower East Side, thanks to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Bruce Radler, and the community organizations that have supported the project," said David Garza, executive director of the Henry Street Settlement. "Speaker Silver fought to make the whole project possible, Community Board 3 and other elected officials provided the community benefit structure, Radler has done the right thing, and the community at large will benefit through local jobs, free recreational space, and other activities that have already started. It's all very exciting and the Lower East Side Employment Network looks forward to a long, productive relationship with Basketball City."
"Basketball City has provided an incredible opportunity for the community to work together in a really effective way, particularly around local hiring," said Michael Zisser, CEO of University Settlement. "Access to employment opportunities for local residents is vital, even more so in this economy. The fact that so many organizations came together to make this day happen is very gratifying. It's an innovative approach that appears to have really paid off."
The property is owned by the city and managed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, with funding allocated for structural maintenance. Basketball City was financed, in part, through the New Market Tax Credit, a federal program designed to spur economic development in low-income neighborhoods. The facility features energy-efficient lighting, gas fired heating systems and a maple floor that sits atop a "green play" environmentally friendly composite floor.