Crews recently began pouring concrete at the site of the $1 billion Barclays Center, the centerpiece of the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project in downtown Brooklyn.

The Barclays Center, billed as the future home of the Brooklyn Nets, who are now playing in Newark, N.J., has, since the inception of the project in the early 2000s, been considered the cornerstone of the entire development, which was originally slated to include several office towers and high-rise residential and commercial developments.

The Laquila Group, a Brooklyn-based excavation and foundation contractor, and WNW Concrete Contracting, also of Brooklyn, began pouring in late June. To date, more than 700 cu yds of concrete has been poured into the first two foundation footings. The concrete was mixed in two separate plants in Brooklyn and has been delivered to the site in more than 80 concrete mixing trucks.

"We're thrilled that we are fully in the construction phase," says Bob Sanna, executive vice president in charge of construction for the project's developer, Forest City Ratner.

Operations will soon expand to include mass excavation, underground plumbing installation and electrical work over the next few months, Sanna adds.

In all, about 13,000 cu yds of concrete will be used for the arena's foundation. More than 9,000 tons of steel will be used to construct the arena.

The Nets hope to have the arena open and operational by mid-2012.