NY Post: Barclays Center quietly stops accepting cash at most concession stands

By Lisa Fickensher, March 26

The Barclays Center is the latest in a growing list of sports venues to phase out cash purchases despite backlash from consumers and opposition from lawmakers.

Home to the Brooklyn Nets and the Islanders, Barclays has quietly stopped accepting cash at most of its 28 concession stands and eateries, according to lawmakers who have talked with the stadium about the move.

The Brooklyn arena is not the first to phase out greenbacks. Earlier this year, the Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Falcons both announced they will no longer accept hard currency at their sporting venues in exchange for hot dogs, beer or anything else they sell.

All three venues rely on the same food service provider, Levy Restaurants, which told The Post that “multiple” food vendors at Barclays will still accept cash. But neither Levy nor Barclays would provide a number.

The move has visitors to the Barclays Center complaining on Twitter.

“Barclays Center food concessions are card only and it bothers me a lot,” one Nets fan griped in January.

“I realized this when I went to a Nets game on Monday and tried to break a $20 so I could have a tip to get my car out of the garage and couldn’t find a booth that would take cash,” a NJ resident tweeted, also in January.

“I was at Barclays center for Michelle Obama’s event in December and the woman ahead of me was willing to pay almost $20 for a goddam beer and they turned her away cuz she only had cash,” someone tweeted this month.

Proponents, including Barclays, say eliminating cash leads to shorter, faster lines and less theft. “We have found that cash transactions take 50 percent more time to process than card transactions,” the arena said in a statement.

But opponents argue that the growing practice discriminates against people who don’t have credit and debit cards, including poor and young people. It also flies in the face of the government’s promise that the notes it prints are “legal tender for all debts, public and private.”

The move comes as lawmakers across the country — including in NY — are looking at banning mandatory cashless transactions.

New Jersey banned the practice last week, while Philadelphia passed a law requiring most retailers to accept cash. Atlanta, San Francisco and New York legislators are considering similar bans, which could also put a serious crimp into Amazon’s plans to open thousands of cashless, cashier-less stores across the country.

Some venues, including Barclays, have been seeking to quell opposition through so-called “reverse ATM” machines that convert cash to prepaid cards that can then be used to buy food and drink.

But critics say the reverse cash machines just don’t cut it, even though venues like Barclays have vowed to eat the fees associated with them.

“I have real concerns about those machines because it means that people have to stand in two lines,” Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) told The Post. “People may show up at the counter and either have not enough money on their prepaid cards, or be stuck with more money on their card than they need.”

Gottfried’s proposed legislation requiring New York establishments to accept cash has the support of two state senators willing to sponsor a similar bill, he told The Post.

Barclays brass has met with City Council members to dissuade them from passing similar legislation — and to seek an exemption for businesses with reverse ATMs if a bill is passed, according to Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), who is sponsoring the bill.

“I have not committed to exempting companies like Barclays,” Torres said.