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Pier 5 Opens with Soccer Fields, Banquet-Style Picnic Tables and Tetherball

By Janet Upadhye | December 13, 2012 5:57pm | Updated on December 13, 2012 9:11pm

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Standing on synthetic turf fields with sweeping views of the Lower Manhattan skyline behind him, Mayor Michael Bloomberg blew a whistle marking the opening of the newest addition to the rapidly growing Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Pier 5, a former shipping pier on the East River, is now home to three sports fields, a picnic and grilling area and a boardwalk with breathtaking waterfront views.

“The beautiful and innovative Brooklyn Bridge Park has quickly become one of the main attractions in the newly revitalized New York Harbor,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “In summer 2012, the park welcomed 90,000 visitors per weekend. Starting today, New Yorkers and tourists alike will have even more reason to visit.”

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, local politicians and the New York Red Bulls soccer team joined the mayor to launch the pier Thursday morning.

Soccer fields on Pier 5, which can also be used for lacrosse, rugby, cricket, flag football and ultimate Frisbee, are made with an organic infill composed of sand and coconut fibers, which cool the surface temperature for players.

The fields are also lined with shade sails for sunny days and lights for nighttime games. A promenade surrounding the fields and can be used to watch games, fish or just take in the view.

Nearby, extra-long banquet-style picnic tables are made of salvaged long leaf yellow pine, and tetherball courts and grills give park visitors plenty to do on a weekend day.

The entire 5-acre pier juts out from the park into the East River, at Joralemon Street.

“We are actually out in the river,” State Senator Daniel Squadron said at the opening. “Look around — these are $10 million dollar views.”

The views are actually worth a bit more: Pier 5 cost $26 million dollars and took nearly a year to complete.

And Pier 5 is only the latest in what Brooklyn Bridge Park has in store for the city. Squibb Bridge, a new footbridge connecting the park to surrounding neighborhoods, is set to open by the end of the year. Plans are also in the works for basketball, handball and bocce courts, plus a skating rink and spiral pool at Pier 2, landscaping, lawns and a granite terrace area at Pier 3 and a calm water zone for non-motorized boating at Pier 4.

“This is the most exciting urban park in the country,” Markowitz said. “On this side of the East River, the synthetic turf really is greener.”