Locals Worry MTV Will Put Neighborhood on 'Lockdown' for Video Music Awards
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — MTV's Video Music Awards at the Barclays Center could be a real showstopper — for local residents.
MTV could close down part of Dean Street and turn it into a red carpet arrival zone for the rock stars, hip-hop artists and assorted celebrities expected to converge at the Aug. 25 show, arena officials said at a Tuesday night public meeting.
Set-up for the internationally televised Video Music Awards is expected to start Aug. 6, with a steady stream of truck traffic running to and from the arena Monday through Friday, said Barclays Center community affairs manager Terence Kelly at Tuesday's meeting. "High-volume" activity is expected to start Aug. 21, when prep will begin for the pre-show outside the arena, Kelly said.
Street closures should start on Friday Aug. 23, with Dean Street closed between Flatbush and Carlton avenues, Kelly said. There will be "restricted access" on Pacific Street between Sixth Avenue and Carlton, and on Carlton between Dean and Atlantic, he said.
The music network has said it wants to use Dean Street as a Brooklyn-flavored backdrop where fans will be filmed reacting as VIPs in limos drive down the block between Carlton and Sixth Avenue, said Robert Puca, a Community Board 8 member and Dean Street resident who was at a recent meeting where MTV unveiled some of its plans.
Plans for the Video Music Awards haven't been finalized, Kelly cautioned residents.
He called the Video Music Awards an "exceptional" and "enormous" event that will have a highly controlled, secure environment similar to a high-profile parade.
"We're very enthusiastic to showcase Brooklyn working with MTV," Kelly said.
Residents at Tuesday's meeting said they worried the VMAs would be on par with the Academy Awards, with legions of screaming fans sitting in grandstands.
Locals were hoping to get more specifics about exactly how the show will affect them at the Tuesday night meeting on Barclays Center-related neighborhood issues, but MTV representatives didn't attend and neither did members of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, which will coordinate street closures and other neighborhood impacts.
Several residents questioned MTV's absence from Tuesday's meeting. "[The VMAs] should leave the community a better place," said Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association. "Ultimately the community shouldn’t feel like they were used by MTV. It's not a good thing that MTV wasn’t here tonight. I think that’s a slight."
Puca said he felt "snubbed" by MTV. "I don't think they care about what we have to say and the fact that they're not here shows it," Puca said. He added, "I feel like they want to use us as props," referring to MTV's proposed plan to turn Dean Street into a film set.
An MTV spokesman said Wednesday that the network has already begun discussions and meetings with locals. "We look forward to continuing to engage them as we finalize plans for the ‘2013 Video Music Awards,’" said spokesman Jake Urbanski in an email. "It is a top priority for us to make Aug. 25 a night that the whole community can enjoy."
James Vogel, a spokesman for state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, asked Barclays Center officials to help neighbors get more details from both MTV and the Mayor's Office of Film. "It's really uncomfortable hearing that the neighborhood is being put in the hands of a private production company," Vogel said. "There's a good chance that this neighborhood is going to be on a form of lockdown."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other local officials have heralded the Video Music Awards' arrival in Brooklyn as an economic booster that's a mark of respect for Brooklyn.