Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus loads into Barclays Center this Monday/Tuesday and opens next Wednesday 3/20.
For many of the 80 years the show played Madison Square Garden, a sideshow of the main event was the spectacle of the late-night "elephant walk", where the circus' elephants were walked from the circus train - parked in Long Island City - through the Queens-Midtown tunnel, and across Manhattan to the Garden. The circus would often issue an official press release promoting the event to media in the same vein as the pre-Macy's parade balloon inflation, telling photographers where to stand to get the best photos. Free publicity for the circus - yeah!
Now that the show has been moved to Barclays Center, I've been chasing info on how the elephants will get to - and into the Prospect Heights arena.
The fact that Barclays sits atop the LIRR Atlantic (Vanderbilt) train yard at first makes it seem a no-brainer: Circus Train (yeah, they still travel by train!) rolls into Queens via the Hell Gate Bridge, then instead of parking in LIC, it uses an interconnect in (Woodside?) Queens to get into the LIRR system, and arrives (via Jamaica?) at Atlantic Yards in the middle of the night, lions and elephants and clowns all piling onto Barclays' below-grade event floor. In my delirious circus-flavored fever dream, anyway.
But then you have to contemplate that when the circus played the Garden all those years - for whatever reason, the Circus Train didn't pull into a Penn Station siding and unload onto a NJ Transit or Amtrak platform; the whole menagerie ascending to the MSG event floor via a giant freight elevator. I've worked a couple events in the Garden and had all-access credentials, and there's no elephantvator. And I'm told elephants don't like / won't walk up steep grades, so a long ramp wouldn't help.
That leads me to the remaning options:
1. The Ringling Bros. deal was inked in 2010, when the Barclays Center was a big hole in the ground. What a great closer "we'll design in an elephant door from the LIRR rail yard" would have made - Bruce Ratner sealing the steal from the Dolans with one giant roll-up door.
2. A three hour elephant Bataan March from Long Island City to Barclays' Dean Street truck elevators via a barricaded BQE; Tillary exit and Flatbush. Unlikely as it seems, that would be amazing.
I've tweeted this question to the official Barclays Center, Ringling Bros, and Barclays/Nets CEO Brett Yormark's Twitter feeds and gotten nothing (Yormark is noted for quick if not entirely direct Twitter responses).
Can any Circus freaks / railroad nerds / unemployed Brooklynian readers help get to the bottom of this before Monday night?