Some Brooklynites are working to rename the massive downtown Brooklyn arena after the iconic baseball player and civil rights activist.
According to the Brooklyn Paper, the initiative was started by Arthur Piccolo, who lives in Park Slope and heads the local advocacy non-profit the Bowling Green Association. He first asked the center’s developer, Bruce Ratner, to name the arena after Robinson back in 2006 while a moniker was still being decided on, yet they did not acquiesce.
Currently, the sport and concert center is named for a UK-based bank, who reportedly bought the naming rights for between $300 and $400 million.
Jackie Robinson was the first Black athlete in Major League Baseball and was a player on the Brooklyn Dodgers for 10 years. He was the first Black player to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949, the year he had a .342 average batting average, most stolen bases (37), and a 124 RBI (which was the highest over his career). He also played a pivotal role in the Dodger’s World Series win over the Yankees in 1956. In his retirement, he worked with the NAACP and helped found the Black-owned Freedom National Bank which helps provide loans for minority communities.
Fellow Brooklynite Norman Oder recently wrote an op-ed in local news outlet Bklyner reflecting on how powerful it would have been during this time for the stadium to have Robinson’s namesake, as the area has become an epicenter for the Black Lives Matter movement. Then Piccolo realized it was the perfect time to revisit the proposal.
“I said wow, this is the time to revive that idea. Perfect timing,” Piccolo told the Brooklyn Paper. “We’re talking about symbolism, positive symbolism for the future about equality.”
“You’re seeing certain individuals being criticized and their statutes rightly removed, and here’s the opportunity to do something symbolic,” Piccolo also said. “What I’m proposing is an obvious idea.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told NBC New York he supported the action in this statement:
“Jackie Robinson was a giant who paved the way for integration in major league baseball and broke down the pervasive racial barriers in mid-century America. He contributed greatly to this borough and this city as a player, and as a private citizen. His example has inspired generations, and the causes he fought for in his time are now being taken up by activists across the country who are tired of racial injustice. It’s fitting that this hero, who spent his major league career here in Brooklyn, should be honored by having his name placed on an important site in the borough.”
In other news: A Colorful Black Lives Matter Mural Has Taken Over Foley Square In Downtown Manhattan
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