Barclays' slavery ties imperil NYC sports deal

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With all the public criticism and praise laid at the doorstep of the Atlantic Yards project, the naming of the arena did not figure to be controversial. Last week, Bruce Ratner, the owner of the Nets and the president of Forest City Ratner, the Atlantic Yards developer, announced that the British bank Barclays would pay $400 million over 20 years for naming rights to the 18,000-seat stadium, to be called the Barclays Center.

Barclays’ accusers say the bank’s early founders had ties to the African slave trade in the 18th century. More recently, they say, the bank cooperated with the apartheid regime of South Africa. A spokesman for Barclays denied both claims.

In remarks reported last Friday in The Brooklyn Paper, a local weekly that is critical of the Atlantic Yards project, Mr. Jeffries said, “Of all of the companies in the world to pursue a naming rights agreement, Barclays is inappropriate to be in a borough which has one of the largest populations of African descent in this country,” Mr. Jeffries, who is black, said in an interview.

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