Monday, May 12, 2008

Why luxury suite sales this week are needed to market arena bonds

A counter-protest in response to the "Time Out" rally. An Bruce Ratner op-ed in the New York Daily News. The release of new renderings of the Atlantic Yards arena, office tower, and first residential building.

Let me try to put Forest City Ratner's recent efforts in some perspective. The office tower rendering is aimed to help attract an anchor tenant and get the building started. The rendering of a residential rental tower, with half the units subsidized, is aimed to maintain public support for the project.

But, more than anything else, the developer's efforts are about getting the arena built. That means the public must be convinced it's viable and, crucially, buyers of luxury suites must be recruited. The guarantee of certain suite revenues, I believe, will back bonds for the now-$950 million arena.

(Rendering from New York Post.)

On WNYC

Matthew Schuerman of WNYC, in a report on Tuesday, not only broke news of the arena's missing green roof, but also started making the point about marketing:

The reason behind releasing these images now wasn't so much to grab headlines, although they have, so far. but in order to prep the public and the press for marketing purposes. Forest City Ratner is going to begin marketing its luxury boxes at its arena later this month and wants to attract a company to rent office space in this new building.

Suites on sale

Luxury suites go on sale this Thursday, May 15. Crain's reported that 20% of the 130 suites have been sold to “friends and family,” according to Nets Sports Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark, but the Nets are trying very hard to get others on board.

The Nets actually sent 185 of the city's top CEOs a Tiffany key chain with a key, and one of those keys is to a free suite. And Jay-Z and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz will be there.

Next: arena bonds?

It's a good bet that a quota of suite sales, along with the value of the Barclays Center naming rights agreement and of other, as yet unnamed, partnerships, are part of the package that Forest City Ratner must put together to sell arena bonds. So far, Forest City Ratner has acknowledged that the naming rights agreement "lends itself pretty nicely" to securitization, but hasn't spoken about securitizing suite revenue.

But suite revenue has been part of other arena deals.Consider the 1999 sale of $315 million asset-backed securitization financing for the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, at that point, the largest-ever financing for a professional sports arena.

The developers announced:
The future revenue streams used for the securitization come from contractually obligated fees from the arena's naming rights, a portion of the luxury suite and premier seat licenses, the concession leases, the ten Founding Partner corporate sponsorships and an exclusive ticket sales agreement with Ticketmaster-California Inc.

Multiple that by three and you've got Brooklyn and a much higher-stakes effort. The road is a bit rockier in Brooklyn, given the presence of some pesky lawsuits and skeptical public officials, not to mention some plausible portraits of an arena that surely won't get its full--or perhaps any--shiny titanium skin until the towers around it are complete.

Will the Tiffany key chain recipients be daunted?

2 comments:

  1. Personally, I highly doubt investing in an arena with so many possibilities for failure will sit well with potential investors. Not to mention all those CEOs are posting some of their worst quarters to date. I would be quite surprised if these sold.

    Then again, I could be totally wrong as I am certainly no CEO.

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  2. These will sell like hot cakes...I wish I has CEO money, I'd be buying one myself.

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