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Barclays Center pumps in a ‘signature scent’ for its patrons to enjoy during Brooklyn Nets games

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Rihanna asks a young fan if she can smell "something, I dunno, tangerine-y?" (Getty Images)

The Brooklyn Nets just about define the superficial experience. The team was put together by a billionaire owner that promised a championship in spite of a lacking basketball resume, before tossing tens of millions of dollars at a general manager in Billy King who has long made a habit of going after the biggest names available. Part-owner Jay-Z helped shape the team’s look and image, despite only owning a small percentage of the team, and not even making it out of the franchise’s first year before selling his shares. And the team’s arena, the Barclays Center, followed the latest trends with its exterior look in spite of some quizzical glances from Brooklyn natives.

Perhaps they were reacting to the smell of the place.

On Monday Leslie Albrecht at DNAInfoNewYork.com put together a great piece on the canned smells the Center wafts in through its ventilation system. It’s not an offensive or even obtrusive odor, nor an obvious one, but it’s … something. And definitely noticeable. From Albercht’s piece:

As the last few fans rushed through the arena's front doors, the brisk breeze that followed them gave way to a distinct aroma: a fresh-smelling fragrance with citrus notes that some call the arena's "signature scent," in the words of one Twitter observer.

What is the smell? A source familiar with the matter said it's the work of ScentAir, a company that manufactures custom fragrances pumped into the air at theme parks, stores and hotels around the world. The odors function like mood music for your nose. They're meant to enhance the consumer experience and build brand identities.

[…]

Members of the Prospect Nights meet-up group spent a recent evening puzzling over why the Barclays Center "smells like perfume," according to one member. Members weren't complaining about the scent, but it definitely tickled their curiosity.

"It became a topic of conversation and something they wanted to get to the bottom of," said the local resident, who didn't want his name used. "You have this stadium and it's big and metallic and industrial looking, and you have this smell of perfume coming out of it, so it was kind of amusing."

Everything about this Nets team is “kind of amusing,” from the team’s massive payroll, underwhelming style, and presence of both Andray Blatche (NBA-level “amusing”) and Kris Humphries (US Weekly-level “amusing”) working alongside Joe Johnson’s giant contract and Deron Williams blasé “superstar” play.

The canned smells are nothing new, according to Albrecht. Not only do various tourist spots in New York City utilize the work of ScentAir, but teams like the Atlanta Hawks, St. Louis Rams, and Dallas Cowboys have also become clients. I wasn’t aware you could bottle the smell of indifference, but apparently that hasn’t stopped the Hawks from trying.

The Nets have declined comment on the fragrance, and for good reason – even the best of press release mavens would have a hard time accurately describing why, exactly, one would decide to pay to have scented air pumped into Barclays Center, much less describing the scent in un-mockable terms and explaining why it’s fit for the team’s arena.

A new arena at that, one somewhat famous for its high end menu and high class clientele. The natural smell coming from Barclays isn’t going to be like the one I experienced climbing the concrete steps of Chicago Stadium as a kid – all cheap lager, worn in cigarette smoke leftover from a previous era, and the natural odor that tends to emanate from humans when they consume several cups of cheap lager.

No, the Barclays Center should naturally smell like the high end artisanal pretzel rolls and craft brews it offers its patrons, and not some imperceptible, “citrus” (which is a descriptive word all of us go for when we have no idea what a certain wine, cigar, or perfume smells like) odor that the Nets are paying for on top of the four years and $89 million they’ll pay Joe Johnson between last summer and 2016.

It’s their arena, their money, and their ventilation options. We’re just wondering why this ownership group even bothers, for just a first round team.

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