Call it his official homecoming: Jay-Z performed the first of eight shows at the newly built Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday night.
The nearly $5 billion project opened Friday night with the Brooklyn native, project backer and hip-hop legend performing the inaugural event.
"It's incredible," said Jay-Z fan Tristan Ellis, who arrived early to take in the experience. "I would never have thought in a million years you would see such an arena like this in Brooklyn."
Candice Cummings of Brooklyn echoed the sentiment, saying, "There was nothing here, and now there's a big stadium. It's the first night, we're here and we're excited."
But not everyone who showed up outside the Barclays Center Friday was excited about the opening. Protesters remain upset that the developer's promise to build housing near the arena hasn't happened.
"They promised 10,000 permanent jobs and it's not about waiting," said Daniel Goldstein, the founder of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. "Bruce Ratner promised within a year of building this there would be four towers of housing up."
Defenders of the arena say once the packed concerts and basketball games begin, money will flow into the community. Supporters see Friday's Jay-Z concert, which is expected to bring in 20,000 fans, as the start of a new chapter in Brooklyn's history.
"There's nothing bigger than this right now," said Randy Mobley, an excited Brooklyn concertgoer. "This is where you need to be. If you're not here, you're not where it's at right now."
And by the time the concert was underway, even some of the protesters had to admit the excitement got to them.
"I was against the arena. I might -- if the Rolling Stones come here in November, I'll go see them 'cause I'm a diehard Stones fan," said Rich Spettell before quickly adding, "But all that being said, this wasn't the place for it and how it was done is disgraceful."
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said "all the verbal abuse and everything else, it was worth it."
The Barclays Center will rival Manhattan's Madison Square Garden for musical events. A number of acts have booked shows at the venue, including Barbra Streisand, Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan, Rihanna, Rush, The Who, Justin Bieber and Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
Jay-Z will perform at Barclays through Oct. 6 with the exception of Oct. 2.
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